Both The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline are claiming the exclusive (we'll let them duke it out over who found out first), but both major trades are saying essentially the same thing: De Niro is in talks to play a talk show host who is a key figure in the Joker's (Phoenix) transformation into a supervillain.
While that's a pretty vague description, the other big trade in the game, Variety, has an additional detail about DeNiro's involvement that sounds pretty intriguing:
Insiders say the script has ties to De Niro’s recent comedy “King of Comedy,” about a failing comedian who kidnaps a popular talk-show host to gain fame. In this case, the roles would be reversed, with De Niro playing the smug host.
Since the flick is reportedly taking direct inspiration from a De Niro flick, it seems likely that the celebrated actor's casting is all but a sure thing. It would be pretty great to see Phoenix go toe-to-toe with a great like De Niro, and we're eager to have this deal become official.
The as-yet-untitled Joker project, from writer-director Todd Phillips, is set to begin production in September.