Alec Baldwin Weighs a New York City Mayoral Bid

Plus: James Franco's cutting an album

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Welcome to the Smart Set. Every morning we bring you the gossip coverage, filtered. Today: Alec Baldwin sees an opening, Leonardo DiCaprio inches closer to playing a bad guy for Quentin Tarantino, and James Franco finally decides to drop that experimental Joni Mitchell album.

  • Anthony Weiner's struggles have Alec Baldwin talking about his hypothetical political career again. According to a Baldwin 'pal', the actor thinks the scandal involving Weiner, who had been the Democratic frontrunner for the 2013 New York City mayoral race. Per the pal: "Alec said, ‘Hey, maybe this changes the race. The dynamics have shifted.'"  [The Daily]
  • No longer content to direct Revlon commercials and drop out of movies about Wolverine learning the way of the samurai, Darren Aronofsky is reportedly targeting a $130 million "edgy re-telling of the Noah's Ark story" for his Black Swan follow-up. After the poor box office performance of Evan Almighty, you would expect Hollywood to be wary of pricey, Noah's Ark-inspired pictures, but apparently "New Regency is eyeing a co-financing role" and Paramount, Fox and Summit are considering putting up the other half. [Deadline
  • The dream of Willie Nelson settling a marijuana arrest by paying $100 and playing "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" in a west Texas courtroom is officially over. Nelson paid a $500 fine for the November bust, his lawyer said yesterday. Previously, Hudspeth County prosecutor  C.R. "Kit" Bramblett offered Nelson the alternate plea deal, only to have it be rejected by the judge hearing the case. [CNN]
  • Quentin Tarantino's courtship of Leonardo DiCaprio to play the villain in his new movie Django Unchained may be the entertainment industry's newest worst-kept secret. As far back as 2008, Tarantino wanted DiCaprio as a bad guy, originally offering him the Christoph Waltz role in Inglourious Basterds. While DiCaprio "has no deal" for Django Unchained "and sources say formal negotiations are at a very early stage," the actor's said to be "keen on doing the film, and momentum has built in recent days for him to pull the trigger." The project is described as "a spaghetti Western about a slave in the Old South who teams with a German bounty hunter to search for his wife." DiCaprio would play "Monsieur Calvin Candie, the owner of a plantation named Candyland, a playground for him to sexually torture women slaves while forcing male ones to engage is death matches." Will Smith was supposed to be all-but-set to play hero Django, but "those [talks] appear to be cooling down" and Tarantino "may be moving on," possibly to Jamie Foxx and Idris Elba. [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Actor, author and perpetual grad student James Franco is finally making his first foray into "high concept performance art" with a 3 song EP as part of "a collaboration with experimental musician Kalup Linzy" The record, arriving in July,  "will be issued by acclaimed label Dutty Artz." What can listeners expect? While "previous performances [with Franco and Linzy] have evoked pop-house and big-band sing-song, a snippet of another new song recalls the existential blubstep of James Blake. On Rising (Both Sides Now), Franco's 'fragile vocals reinterpret Joni Mitchell's poetry to great effect.'" [The Guardian]
  • The New York Observer is unveiling redesigned versions of its print and online today. Editor Elizabeth Spiers says the print changes "went back to treating it like a newspaper, tabloid format or not," by eliminating "elements that work well in magazines on white glossy paper, but not so much on salmon newsprint--aggressive use of white space, heavy fonts, large photo illustrations." Spiers says the revamped online layout does "little to distinguish between long form features that appear in the paper and long-form web exclusives" and frees them up for "an emphasis on breaking news and smaller scoops throughout the day." [The Cutline]
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