Originally created 04/01/04

Black joins higher primate cast in 'King Kong' remake



LOS ANGELES -- Jack Black is going ape with "The Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson.

The New Zealand filmmaker has cast Black as Carl Denham, the showman who captures the giant ape in Jackson's update of "King Kong," due out in December 2005, Universal Studios said Tuesday. Robert Armstrong played Denham in the 1933 original.

Black will co-star with Naomi Watts, previously announced as Jackson's female lead.

Jackson - whose "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" won 11 Academy Awards in February, including best picture and director - said he has wanted to work with Black since he saw him as a smart-mouthed record-store clerk in 2000's "High Fidelity."

"He's a smart and versatile actor blessed with an abundance of energy and charm," Jackson said.

Black, 34, most recently starred in the hit "The School of Rock." His other credits include "Shallow Hal" and the upcoming comedy "Envy."