What would Justin Bieber do? Pop star, Ashton Kutcher look to buddy comedy


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EXCLUSIVE: Fresh off his turn in “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” the singer could be heading back to the big screen –- in scripted, non-musical form.

Bieber is eyeing a lead role in the comedy “What Would Kenny Do?” according to a person who was briefed on the project but was not authorized to speak about it publicly. The film tells of a relationship between a 17-year-old and his thirtysomething self. Said thirtysomething would be played by Ashton Kutcher, the source said.


The project is set up at Sony and will be produced by Kutcher’s Katalyst Entertainment and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment (Bieber and Jaden Smith are of course friends). An Overbrook spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Although Bieber has expressed interest in being an actor, the ‘Kenny’ project would have to overcome Bieber’s packed touring schedule; he has commitments consistently until 2012. [Update, 5:41 p.m. -- It’s a bit more than an ‘eyeing’ situation for the Biebs -- the project has been developed for months with Bieber both in mind and on board; originally the goal was to shoot this year, but the aforementioned touring obligations could push it to 2012.]

Kutcher and Bieber represent a canny commercial pairing -- the singer’s fan base is composed primarily of teen girls, while Kutcher’s appeal, also strong among females, skews a bit older. The pair has already discussed at least one other project -- the former “Punk’d” host made news in January when he said he has had conversations with the teen phenom about taking over a revitalized version of the cable reality show. At the time, Kutcher described Bieber as ‘a nice kid’ and ‘a funny kid.’

Chris Baldi’s “Kenny” script, which landed on Hollywood’s Black List in 2008, is an R-rated comedy describing a teenager who meets a hologram claiming to be the adult version of himself; the hologram then helps guide the teen through high school. The project was originally set up at MGM label United Artists when MGM was under different management.

“(500) Days of Summer” writers Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber then came on and wrote a new draft of the script. According to a person who was briefed on the new (less raunchy) draft, the story now involves Kutcher’s successful character actually jumping back in time to help the present-day Bieber, who remains awkward. A new writer and director are currently being sought.

Bieber proved to be a box-office draw with “Never,” a music doc that grossed more than $70 million in the U.S., though it of course remains to be seen whether Bieber’s fans will come out to see him in a fictional movie, let alone in one in which he plays someone not as popular as his real self. Bieber would be following a path taken by Miley Cyrus, who made the transition from music idol to actor -- she made her first feature role a drama, “The Last Song,” and stars in the upcoming high-school tale “LOL.”


--Steven Zeitchik


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