Kirk? Cops? Both? Pine in demand


Does Hollywood have a new It Boy?

Over sandwiches at Barney's Greengrass and over beer at Barney's Beanery, the talk is about Chris Pine, who might be the hottest new actor in town. He is in discussions to star as Captain Kirk in Paramount's "Star Trek" and in negotiations to star opposite George Clooney in Joe Carnahan's adaptation of the James Ellroy crime novel "White Jazz."

If Pine joins "Trek," which J.J. Abrams is directing, he would face off against Eric Bana, who was cast Tuesday as the film's villain, Nero. It is unknown whether Bana would play a human or a member of the alien race, like a Klingon; as per the veil of secrecy that surrounds "Trek," parts are being solicited and offered without scripts.

The take it-or-leave-it scenario is very much the modus operandi of Abrams, who worked the same way when making his ultra-mysterious film "Cloverfield."

Although not a complete unknown, Pine's biggest gig to date has been the male lead in the 2006 Lindsay Lohan movie "Just My Luck," which flopped. He caught some eyeballs with a scene-stealing role as a neo-Nazi assassin in "Smokin' Aces," also directed by Carnahan.

The biggest stumbling block to getting both roles at this point might be scheduling. Sources said "Trek" will shoot from November through March, while "Jazz" has a mid-January start. Although both sides are trying to sort out the date puzzle, it is possible that Pine and his camp could be forced to choose which role to take.

Paramount is not sitting idle while negotiations are under way, with sources saying that the studio is looking for backup actors to have on deck.

Already on the Starship Enterprise crew for Paramount are Anton Yelchin as the young Chekov, the Russian-born navigator; Zachary Quinto as the young Spock; and Zoe Saldana as the young Uhura, the communications officer.

For "Jazz," being produced by Cherry Road Films and Clooney's Smoke House, Pine would play Junior Stemmons, Clooney's partner in the film noir tale.

Pine, a Los Angeles native, recently shot the indie drama "Bottle Shock" and next appears onscreen in Paramount Vantage's "Carriers," due out early next year. He recently starred in the Neil LaBute play "Fat Pig" at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. He is repped by SDB Partners, John Carrabino Management and attorney Stuart Berton.

Bana is shooting New Line's romantic drama "The Time Traveler's Wife" with Rachel McAdams. He is repped by WMA and Sloane Offer Weber and Dern.