Joaquin Phoenix Rises From the Ashes Like... a Phoenix

Though he once said he'd "quit acting," that was all a hoax, and Joaquin Phoenix really hasn't quit acting at all. Also today: the return of the return of musicals, Jessica Lange makes a TV project even more exciting, and Bradley Cooper is seriously miscast.

  • Aha! As predicted by that mysterious old gypsy woman, Joaquin Phoenix, himself a mysterious old gypsy woman, is returning to acting. Mayyybe. Supposedly Phoenix has been in talks about taking a role in Paul Thomas Anderson's long-gestating The Master, a drama about a man starting a bogus religion in the 1950s that's supposedly based loosely on the whole Scientology thing. Hm. Joaquin Phoenix, amateur hoaxman, in a movie about Hollywood's big, dark actor closet? I feel like some corner of the entertainment reporting world might explode if that actually happens. [EW]
  • Remember when Moulin Rouge and Chicago came out and everyone was like "The musical is back!" and then the musical was back for a little bit before everyone went yawn again? (See: Nine.) Well, the musical is back again, again! Thanks maybe to Glee, Universal, among other studios, is racking up a bunch of stage properties with the hopes of movie-izing them. They've dumped plans for In the Heights, but still plan on doing Les Miserables (with King's Speech director Tom Hooper) and Wicked (eventually), and now they've added Green Day's American Idiot to the roster. That curiously dated screed against the corporate-fed disillusion of the Bush years, which is set to close on Broadway this month, could be a rock out (politely) with your liberal, NPR-listening cock out hit on screen. Everyone loves Green Day! It is still 2004, right? Anther musical supposedly in the works is Rock of Ages, a dopey jukeboxer that's going to feature Julianne Hough, Tom Cruise, and now Russell Brand, among others. The future looks bright! Sigh. [Deadline]
  • ABC Family continues to add to their wiggling heap of young lady programming. Their latest pickup is Jane By Design, a series about the last days of Sassy magazine a sixteen-year-old girl who somehow gets a job as an assistant at a big fashion design house. That happens all the time! I mean, it happened to Jenny on that Frontline documentary "Gossip Girl," so why not fictionalize it? ABC Family also continues to add to the weeping heap of once-were actors playing boring The Grownup roles: Andie MacDowell, America's most successful actor who suffers from Monotonic Voice Syndrome, will play a fashion executive on the series. [THR]
  • Oh this is exciting. Jessica Lange has signed on to co-star in Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's new FX pilot American Horror Story. No one really knows what this thing is about, but it seems that Lange will play Connie Britton's "nosy neighbor." Jessica Lange and Connie Britton? What, were no good actors available? I mean, apparently Andie MacDowell's on the market! Why not pair her with someone like dynamic future ShoWest attendee Katie Cassidy? That would be dynamite! But Jessica Lange and Connie Britton? Feh. Wastes. [Deadline]
  • Aww. Remember Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, that long-ago Bravo series that taught America that it's OK to be gay as long as you're putting yourself — Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather-style — in the service of straight people? And remember its home design guy, Thom Filicia? Well he's back baby! The gay person who has a gay life has just signed with HGTV to appear "across the network" and in a Christmas special. So good for him. Nice to know that he's doing things. Meanwhile, Jai Rodriguez is still missing and presumed dead. [THR]
  • Good lord. Bradley Cooper, of all people, is in talks to star in a "reinvention" of The Crow, the goth-action comic book series that was adapted into a seriously bad 1994 movie starring Brandon Lee, who was killed during filming. Remember that whole thing? Man oh man. Anyway, uh, Bradley Cooper? What, was Matthew McConaughey unavailable? Bradley Cooper may say a lot of things (mainly: "I'm Bradley Cooper, from the movies?") but he certainly does not say tortured undead urban goth superhero. He has never said that, has he? [Deadline]
  • Oh, well, look at this. Real Housewife of New York Jill Zarin will be playing a little part on USA's White Collar, with lines and everything. "It's my first acting gig," she says of the part, the word "first" implying that there will be more. I guess "It's my only acting gig" doesn't have the same ring to it. Ah well. Poor Jill. She already got beat by Countess Crackerjacks, who had a role on Law & Order: SVU earlier this season. And Alex McCord was on Blind Date once, so. Sorry, Jillzy. Foiled again! [L&S]

[Photos via Getty]