I can't be the only one who saw this title of the film and thought of the old joke about "master debaters," but that is probably not the best association to make when you are talking about a family film. Variety reports that Kimberly Elise has signed on to the period flick The Great Debaters. The movie is the second directorial effort from Denzel Washington and centers on a small East Texas debate team that challenged Harvard's famed team to a debate. The film is set in the 30's, which will probably add an extra "feel-good" element to it, as its sure to be not only a story of triumph over adversity, but some deep-seated discrimination. The cast also includes Nate Parker (Pride), Forest Whitaker and Washington who will play the coach of the debate team. Elise is set to play Whitaker's wife and the mother to the team's star debater.

Elise must have had an inside track on the role since one of the film's producers is media queen Oprah Winfrey, who gave Elise one of her first big-screen roles in the adaptation of Toni Morrison's Beloved, and Elise has already worked with Washington on The Manchurian Candidate. After shooting has finished in Louisiana, Elise will return to work on the international drama Red Soil. The Great Debaters is set for release in 2008.