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Tom Hanks in Talks for The Da Vinci Code

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CAST: Despite some rumblings that the role would go to Russell Crowe, and novelist Dan Brown’s own description of his hero as looking like Indiana Jones in tweeds, Tom Hanks is being asked to play scholarly supersleuth Robert Langdon in Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s movie version of the runaway bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. Variety and the Hollywood Reporter say the movie starts shooting next year. Hanks, 48, also made 1995’s Apollo 13 with the director and producer, and 1984’s Splash! with Howard. The search for the actress to play Langdon’s French love interest is still underway.

ANNOUNCED: Denzel Washington, 50, will take the role of the assassin Brutus in a spring Broadway revival of William Shakespeare s Julius Caesar, the Associated Press reports. The production, to be directed by Daniel Sullivan (Proof), will feature a cast of 25. The double Oscar winner first appeared on Broadway in 1988, in the short-lived Checkmates.

ARRANGED: UNICEF national ambassador Sarah Jessica Parker, India.Arie, Wyclef Jean, Mindy Smith, Obie Bermudez and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Roger Moore will join New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday to light the UNICEF snowflake in front of Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, according to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Once Parker, 39, illuminates the ornament, India.Arie, Wyclef Jean and many of the others will sing.

DIAGNOSED: Vice President Dick Cheney, 63, suffered from shortness of breath and checked into a hospital Saturday, say reports. He walked out on his own after five hours, following a battery of tests. “I feel fine,” Cheney told reporters afterwards. His spokeswoman said he had a viral upper respiratory infection, and the hospital visit was not heart-related.

AXED: CBS News has fired the producer responsible for interrupting the last five minutes of the top-rated CSI: NY on Wednesday with a special report on the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, reports Reuters. Word of the dismissal came a day after CBS apologized to viewers for the interruption. Neither NBC nor ABC broke into regular programming to report Arafat’s death. NBC said it ran a crawl for affiliates in the Western states and Rockies, while leaving the story for local news in eastern and central time zones. ABC said it ran a crawl on the West Coast.

SUED: Ravi Batra, a Brooklyn lawyer, has sued the producers of NBC’s Law & Order for $15 million, claiming they defamed him by portraying him as a crooked attorney in one “ripped from the headlines” episode, AP reports. Batra said the show titled “Floater” maliciously inflicted emotional, economic and professional injury on him. The suit says the episode featured an Indian-American, Brooklyn-based lawyer named Ravi Patel who has similarities to Batra – including a bald head and facial hair. The Aptel character is corrupt on the show, and people who know the real Batra and saw the episode “were disturbed and distressed by the story line of criminal conduct attributed to plaintiff by defendants,” court papers say. NBC has not commented.

DIED: Illustrator Harry Lampert, the man who created the DC Comics superhero The Flash, died of cancer on Saturday. He was 88. Lampert created The Flash in 1940, and the first-edition comic featuring the physics-defying superhero is a classic among comic book collectors. His daughter Karen Lampert says that her father was still drawing Flash cartoons up until the final week of his life. He is survived by his daughter, his wife, Adele Lampert, and two grandsons.

RECEIVED: The Federal Communications Commission said it received several complaints on Friday after ABC aired the World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, AP reports. The Oscar-winning movie, which contains extreme violence and some profanity, was aired uncensored on Veterans Day. Ahead of the show’s broadcast, the American Family Association vowed to have its members flood the FCC with complaints. In anticipation of possible fines over indecency, 66 ABC affiliates chose not to air the film. Still, the film’s ratings brought the network its best performance in total viewers this season.