Zellweger, Zeta-Jones May Croon in Chicago

Skinny Texas native Renée Zellweger surprised everyone by transforming into the plump, veddy British singleton in Bridget Jones's Diary, and now her versatility may land the Golden Globe winner her first singing and dancing role.

Zellweger is poised to play chorus girl and murder suspect Roxie Hart in Miramax's film version of the Tony-winning stage musical Chicago, after she wowed director Rob Marshall in an audition last week, Variety reports.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, who has extensive dancing and stage experience, is in negotiations to play the role of gold-digging murderer Velma, the role originated by Chita Rivera in 1977 and played by Bebe Neuwirth in the Tony-winning Broadway revival.

Doubt that the America's Sweethearts diva can sing? According to director Baz Lurhmann, Zeta-Jones narrowly missed out on the singing and dancing lead role in Moulin Rouge that went to Nicole Kidman.

Coincidentally, Kidman was one of the many actresses mentioned for the long-in-the-works big-screen adaptation of the stage show, as were Charlize Theron, Goldie Hawn, and Madonna, who was said to be considering the Bob Fosse musical as a follow-up to Evita.

Spacey, Bates Up for Supporting Roles Currently, an offer is out to Tony nominee Kevin Spacey to play sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn, who defends Roxie and Velma on separate murder charges and changes loyalties when one becomes more popular in the press than the other. X-Men's Hugh Jackman, who has a lot of hoofing and singing experience in Australia, was briefly mentioned for the role. Kathy Bates is also said to be under consideration for the role of prison matron Mama Morton.

Chicago's long development is attributed to the stalemate between studio co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and the musical's producer, Martin Richards, who have now both approved a script by Oscar-winning Gods and Monsters scribe Bill Condon. The film is being prepped for an early 2002 shoot.

Reuters/Variety contributed to this story.

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