Goodman gets an ax to grind


John Goodman has been cast as Paul Bunyan in Exodus Film Group's upcoming CG-animated family adventure "Bunyan & Babe" opposite comedian Eddie Griffin.

Goodman, who has had monster success voicing characters in Disney/Pixar's "Monsters Inc." and "Cars," will play the legendary jumbo lumberjack in the film, in which Bunyan works with two adventurous kids to rescue his sidekick Babe the Blue Ox (Griffin) from the evil clutches of a demented circus owner.

Jim Rygiel, who won three Oscars for his special effects work on the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, makes his feature directorial debut with "Bunyan." The modern take on the folk story was written by Michael Nickles and Julia Wall, with additional work by "Flushed Away" scribes Ian LaFrenais and Dick Clement. The late composer Basil Poledouris wrote the film's theme music.

Goodman won a Golden Globe for his role on ABC's "Roseanne" and has received nine Emmy nominations. He next will be heard in the DreamWorks/Paramount animated comedy "Bee Movie" in November and is working on Warner Bros.' live-action version of "Speed Racer." His other credits include "Evan Almighty," "The Big Lebowski" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

"John is a dream casting for us," Exodus president and executive producer Max Howard said. "He epitomizes the true American spirit of Paul Bunyan."

Exodus has an open-ended production, financing and worldwide distribution deal with the Weinstein Co. Its animated adventure "Igor" is in production and set for an October 2008 release through the Weinstein Co. Another project, "The Hero of Color City," is in preproduction and will be distributed in North America by Magnolia Pictures.

Goodman is repped by Gersh and law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.