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Entertainment Briefs -- Aug. 21, 2013

Actor Dick Van Dyke, shown in January at the 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, was saved Monday when he was pulled from his car, which burst into flames. (Reuters)

Actor Dick Van Dyke, shown in January at the 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, was saved Monday when he was pulled from his car, which burst into flames. (Reuters)

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Bobby Cannavale is set to join the cast of “Annie.” (Reuters)

Dick Van Dyke survives car fire

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — Veteran actor Dick Van Dyke, best known for his hit television comedy of the 1960s, survived a car fire unscathed on Monday when a passerby pulled him from the smoldering vehicle before it burst into flames on the side of a Los Angeles-area freeway.

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol confirmed that the 87-year-old performer was the driver seen slumped over the steering wheel of a Jaguar that was reported to be on fire on the shoulder of the Ventura Freeway.

Van Dyke said a group of motorists who stopped to render assistance, one of them apparently an off-duty firefighter, saw him huddled in the driver’s seat while he was trying to place a call for help and pulled him out of the car to safety.

“They thought I had passed out so they yanked me out of the car,” Van Dyke recounted in an interview with the celebrity news website TMZ.com, saying he had not initially realized that his car was burning.

“It just started making a noise, and I thought I had a flat at first, then it started to smoke, then it burned to a crisp,” he said smiling. He added that he was unhurt and got out of the vehicle “long before” it went up in flames.

Still, he counted himself lucky to be alive.

“Not only that, there was a fireman, a nurse and a cop just happened to be passing by. Somebody’s looking after me.”

The actor’s publicist, Bob Palmer, said the car, a “brand new” Jaguar, inexplicably caught fire after Van Dyke heard an unusual noise while driving and pulled over to the shoulder of the freeway.

Cannavale joins ‘Annie’ cast

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) — “Boardwalk Empire” star Bobby Cannavale has been cast alongside Jamie Foxx in Sony’s musical “Annie,” TheWrap has learned

Cannavale is one of my favorite character actors and he seems to be having a moment thanks to his turn as Gyp Rosetti on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” as well as a prominent role on the most recent season of Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.” Cannavale has always been an actor who makes interesting choices, from his charming turns in Tom McCarthy’s “The Station Agent” and “Win Win” to his winning work in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”

He’ll play Guy, a bulldog political consultant to Foxx’s character as he runs for mayor of New York. Quvenzhane Wallis stars alongside Cameron Diaz and Rose Byrne. Will Gluck is directing the movie, which opens on Christmas Day 2014.

Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and James Lassiter are producing through their Overbrook Entertainment banner along with Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Jay Brown and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith via Marcy Media. The film is also being produced by Gluck, who is currently revising the screenplay by Emma Thompson and Aline Brosh McKenna.

Cannavale will soon be seen alongside Al Pacino in Dan Fogelman’s directorial debut “Imagine,” as well as Jon Faveau’s “Chef.” He earned a pair of Emmy nominations for his work on the two cable series, and was previously nominated for his second Tony Award.

JLo returning to ‘American Idol’

NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) — Jennifer Lopez is returning to “American Idol,” says her boyfriend, who you probably don’t want helping plan a surprise party.

Whether or not Lopez would return to the show after taking a season off has been the biggest source of drama about the upcoming “Idol” season. But Casper Smart dispensed with all the mystery in an interview with E! News.

Asked if Lopez would return, he answered simply, “Yes.”

E! said Smart apparently thought that Fox had already made the announcement. It had not.

If Lopez is indeed returning, this would be the least dramatic “Idol” judge announcement, edging out the one for Mariah Carey last year. Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly broke the news at the Television Critics Association summer press tour by just calling Carey up on the phone.

Keith Urban is the only judge returning from last season.