Posted Oct. 3, 2007 -- Wesley Snipes' tax woes are causing him career trouble now, too.
The actor was forced to drop out of a role in Spike Lee's latest joint, the World War II drama "Miracle at St. Anna," Variety reports. Snipes was unable to commit to shooting the film in Italy due to his pending trial on tax-evading charges.
Snipes, 45, is accused of attempting to swindle the Internal Revenue Service out of $12 million in fraudulent refunds in 1996 and 1997, and not filing any returns from 1999 to 2004.
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According to Variety, Derek Luke ("Antwone Fisher") will take Snipes' place. He joins a cast that includes James Gandolfini, Omar Benson, Naomi Campbell, Laz Alonso and Valentina Cervi.
The tax-fraud case is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 22, about the same time Lee is set to begin filming. Snipes was indicted last October along with two alleged coconspirators, Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas Rosile. They ran American Rights Litigators, a Florida accounting firm purportedly specializing in circumventing the IRS. If found guilty of the federal charges, Snipes could face up to 16 years in prison.
Ross Goes for "Greta"
Evan Ross has been cast opposite former Disney Channel superstar-turned-pop singer Hilary Duff in the film "Greta," an interracial teen dramedy for Whitewater Films. The story revolves around the forbidden romance of a waitress named Greta (Duff) and the restaurant's ambitious cook (Ross).
After she falls for him, the couple's little summer romance runs into a brick wall called her grandparents, played by veteran actors Ellen Burstyn and Michael Murphy. Apparently, the folks aren't too happy about the cook's criminal past. Ross, son of singing legend Diana Ross and late Norwegian businessman Arne Næss, Jr., has also finished shooting "Black Water Transit" opposite Laurence Fishburne, as well as "Brooklyn to Manhattan," "Life is Hot in Cracktown" and "Linewatch."
HBO to Make "Duke Rape" Movie
HBO has acquired rights to Stuart Taylor Jr. and K.C. Johnson's book "Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case." The book, about the prosecution of three Duke U. lacrosse players for the alleged gang rape of a stripper at a team party on campus, was just published by the St. Martin's Press imprint Thomas Dunne Books.
Paybox will develop a movie exploring the dynamics of racism and class issues that made the case a national story. Durham, N.C., district attorney Michael Nifong demonized the defendants in the media and fanned racial hatred to win black votes in his re-election campaign, according to the book. Worse, he withheld or ignored crucial evidence that disproved his flimsy case. He was subsequently disbarred and disgraced, and all charges were dismissed by the attorney general of North Carolina, who declared the players innocent.
Josh Maurer, whose HBO credits include "The Pentagon Papers" and "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," will executive produce with Alixandre Witlin. Taylor is a legal commentator who writes for Newsweek, and Johnson is a professor of history at CUNY.