Variety is reporting that director/choreographer Rob Marshall and uber-producer Harvey Weinstein have started putting together a cast for Nine, a film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Javier Bardem was just offered the role of director Guido Contini, who "experiences a creative and personal crisis as he tries to balance all the women in his life." The musical was inspired by Federico Fellini's classic 8 1/2, and the Contini role was originated onstage by the great Raul Julia. In its recent Broadway revival, Contini was played by Antonio Banderas. I love Bardem, but I have to wonder why Banderas isn't reprising his role here. He played the part in 2003 and he still looks like a million bucks, so the reason can't be that he's gotten too old. Curious.

Regardless, the real appeal of this film is going to be its women. If Marshall gets his first choices, this will be one beautiful cast. Marion Cotillard (Russell Crowe's love interest in A Good Year) is set to play Contini's wife. Penelope Cruz, whom I never thought too highly of until her terrific work in Volver, is in talks to play Contini's mistress, Carla. Marshall hopes to sign his Chicago co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones to play "the director's muse." Zeta-Jones isn't signed yet, but judging by what she told MTV's Movie Blog last month, she's a done deal. Said Jones, "I'd read the phone book with Rob Marshall. To put a musical in a director's hands, for me it can only be [him]." Marshall is also trying to get Sophia Loren, one of the sexiest women of all time, on board to play Contini's mother, who comes to Contini as a ghost. Michael Tolkin, best known for adapting his novel The Player for Robert Altman, is adapting the script. I'm no fan of Marshall, I thought Chicago was insanely overrated, and Mem-Snores of a Geisha was agony to sit through. Still, I dig musicals and it'd be great to see all of these gorgeous women on the big screen at once.