Chow in 'Hornet' driver's seat

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Stephen Chow will steer the car in "The Green Hornet" and steer the film as well.

Chow, known for his visual work in "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Shaolin Soccer," will make his American directorial debut on the project, which has a June 25, 2010, release date, and play trusty sidekick and chauffeur Kato, too.

The move, announced by Columbia presidents Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach, gives an inkling to the kind of movie the studio is looking to make as Chow is known for his martial arts action-meets-Bugs Bunny style.

Seth Rogen has slimmed down for his role as the masked crimefighter Green Hornet, which began as a 1930s radio program and later moved to film, TV and comics.

Neal Moritz is producing through his Original Film shingle. Original's Ori Marmur is executive producing.

" 'The Green Hornet' is a dream project, and it's come together in a dream way," Moritz said. "Seth will be fantastic in the lead role, and Stephen was the only name on the list for Kato. The material is a perfect match for his sensibilities. Stephen in the director's chair is the best thing for the film."

Rogen, who wrote the screenplay with Evan Goldberg, added: "Stephen was always my and Evan's first choice for director and to play Kato. We just hope that he never finds out we're not the Wachowski brothers."

Sony co-produced and released Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle," which brought in $100 million worldwide, and distributed Chow's fantasy comedy "CJ7."

Perhaps the most memorable portrayal of Kato was by Bruce Lee, who gained fame in the 1966-67 "Green Hornet" TV show.

"The idea of stepping into Bruce Lee's shoes as Kato is both humbling and thrilling," Chow said, "and to get the chance to direct the project as my American movie debut is simply a dream come true." (partialdiff)
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