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Thornton to Get Name in 'Lights'

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Billy Bob Thornton, currently in theaters playing a satanic St. Nick in "Bad Santa," is in negotiations to head the cast of football drama "Friday Night Lights."

The Universal Pictures project, based on the book by H.G. Bissinger, chronicles the 1988 football season of the Odessa (Texas) Permian High Panthers, capturing the struggles and hopes of a financially troubled town that pins its dreams on the team's Friday night games. Thornton will play the team's coach. The movie will be shot in and around Odessa.

Peter Berg ("The Rundown") will direct.

After a surprisingly strong start, "Bad Santa" has grossed nearly $20 million during its first eight days, and been the top film in the market during the past few week days.

Thornton was nominated for a best actor Oscar for 1996's "Sling Blade" and for best supporting actor for 1998's "A Simple Plan." (He won an Oscar for adapting "Sling Blade.") His numerous credits include "Monster's Ball," "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "Bandits." He next appears in the Walt Disney Co.'s "The Alamo."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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