Whitaker, Biel take shine to 'Powder'


CANNES -- Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and Jessica Biel are set to star in the inspirational drama "Powder Blue."

"Blue" follows a suicidal ex-priest (Whitaker), a stripper (Biel) with a terminally ill son, an elderly ex-con seeking to reunite with his daughter and a lovelorn mortician whose lives intersect in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. Timothy Linh Bui wrote and directs the film, which begins shooting on location in July.

Whitaker will also produce with Linh Bui, Tracee Stanley-Newell and Eleven Eleven Films' Bobby Schwartz and Ross M. Dinerstein.

The executive producers are the Collective's Shaun Redick and Jeff Golenberg and QED International's Bill Block and Kimberly Fox. Their companies are selling North American and international rights, respectively, at Cannes.

The indie will be produced by Eleven Eleven in association with Spirit Dance Entertainment and Grosvenor Park.

Linh Bui directed and co-wrote the 2001 Vietnamese refugee drama "Green Dragon" starring Patrick Swayze and Whitaker, who served as an exec producer as well.

The busy Whitaker, best actor Oscar winner for "The Last King of Scotland," has upcoming roles in "The Great Debaters" opposite actor-director Denzel Washington for MGM/Weinstein Co. and "Vantage Point" for Columbia Pictures. He will also vocal a character in "Where the Wild Things Are" for Warner Bros.

Whitaker served as a producer on "Chasing Papi" and director of "Waiting to Exhale," "Hope Floats" and "First Daughter."

Biel's credits include "The Illusionist" for Yari Film Group Releasing, "Stealth" for Columbia, "Elizabethtown" for Paramount and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" for Universal.

Eleven Eleven's upcoming production credits include Zak Penn's mockumentary "The Grand." The Collective management/production company reps the RKO studio library and clients including Martin Lawrence, Erika Christensen and Emile Hirsch.

Whitaker is repped by WMA and the Collective. Biel is repped by CAA, Management 360 and attorney Karl Austen.