'Hairspray' Applies Travolta, Latifah

As has long been speculated, John Travolta and Queen Latifah have signed pay-or-play deals to star in Adam Shankman's upcoming big screen version of the Broadway musical "Hairspray."

The two Oscar nominees will likely be joined by an unknown lead actress when production on "Hairspray" begins in September in Toronto and Baltimore with an eye toward a summer 2007 release courtesy of New Line.

As noted in Variety, Travolta will don a gown to play Edna Turnblad, the downtrodden housewife role originated by Divine in John Waters' 1998 feature and then played to Tony-winner effect by Harvey Fierstein in the musical. Latifah will play Motormouth Maybelle, a civil rights activist and dance show host.

Now, though, the search is on to follow Ricki Lake and Marissa Jaret Winokur as zaftig, spunky star Tracey Turnblad. Open casting calls have been held in several cities, with more to come.

Travolta, last seen in "Be Cool" and "Ladder 49," has signed on for the lead in the comedy "Wild Hogs."

Queen Latifah, star of the recent "Last Holiday," will be heard in the animated "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown." She's also co-starring in "Stranger than Fiction."

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