According to Variety, Billy Crystal, now starring on Broadway in his autobiographical "700 Sundays," is in talks to play Wilbur Turnblad in New Line's film of Hairspray.

Meanwhile, Aretha Franklin is negotiating to play R&B record shop owner Motormouth Maybelle.

New Line said no offers would be made to cast the film until scribe Leslie Dixon (Mrs. Doubtfire, Look Who's Talking) finishes the script. She recently replaced the musical's original book writers, Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell, on the project.

Hairspray is expected, but not confirmed, to go before the cameras in September. Sources close to the film reported last month that John Travolta has the inside track to star as zaftig leading lady Edna Turnblad, Wilbur's wife.