New Line's Virgin Mary project - entitle Nativity - has come together incredibly quickly: between the purchase of Mike Rich's spec script and the start of production this spring, less than six full months will have passed, and the studio plans to have the movie in theaters by December, not even 12 months after the script was bought. (If writers whose scripts are mired in development hell find out about this, we risk a rash of quiet suicides.) The film, which will be directed by the very unconventional Catherine Hardwicke, will tell Mary's story from a "strong female perspective," detailing her travels with Joseph, and the obstacles they encountered. According to today's Hollywood Reporter, Mary will be played by the world's only 15-year-old with an Oscar nomination under her belt, Whale Rider's Keisha Knight-Pulliam Castle-Hughes.

As I said in an earlier post on this movie, it's shaping up to be a promising project - when they hired Hardwicke, New Line made it clear that they were going to do more than pay lip service to the idea of examining the life of Mary from a new, feminine perspective. That choice was a great sign, as is the choice of Castle-Hughes for the role of Mary, because you know there were at least three execs pushing La Lohan.