On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs have always been the first-born and male. Many generations later, the contemporary tale revolves around a young mother whose male newborn twin dies in childbirth. Her young husband flees New Zealand in grief, leaving grandparents Koro and Nanny Flowers to raise the sole survivor, a feisty little girl named Pai, who radiates with life and energy. It’s no wonder that her grandmother and the entire community love her, but alas, the grandfather she worships is too busy mourning the loss of the baby boy he expected would lead the tribe to better days.

Javier Bardem has dropped out of the lead role of Nine, the musical that Chicago helmer Rob Marshall will direct for The Weinstein Company, says Variety.

Bardem was expected to play Guido Contini, a film director who experiences personal and creative crisis trying to balance all the women in his life.

Though his camp said that Bardem loved the script and the idea of working with Marshall, he pulled out because he is exhausted from work and awards season, and will take as long as a year to recharge his batteries.

Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Sophia Loren are still aboard to star, and Nicole Kidman and Judi Dench are reportedly negotiating to join them in the screen adaptation of a stage musical inspired by the Fellini film 8½.

EXTRAs: Bardem dedicated his recent Oscar win for No Country for Old Men (2007) to his mother, Pilar, whom he brought with him to the ceremony. At the end of his acceptance speech, Javier said to her (originally in Spanish), “Mom, this is for you, this is for your grandparents, for your parents, Rafael and Matilde, this is for the comics of Spain who have brought, like you, the dignity and the pride to our job. This is for Spain and this is for all of you.”.