Gyllenhaal Replaces Holmes in 'Dark Knight'

Maggie Gyllenhaal is close to a deal to join the cast of Warner Brothers' "Batman Begins" sequel, taking the part played by the departed Katie Holmes.

As has been the case with amusing frequency recently, the industry trade papers are finally beginning to report on a news story that broke on the Internet weeks ago. Gyllenhaal is expected to take over Holmes' Rachel Dawes character, rather than becoming a new and distinct love interest for Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne in "The Dark Knight."

Christopher Nolan, who also directed "Batman Begins," is expected to start production on "The Dark Knight" in the late spring or early summer, with a summer 2008 release date already in the cards.

In addition to returning castmembers Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, the sequel has already added Heath Ledger as the Joker and Aaron Eckhart as D.A. Harvey Dent.

While the Dawes part was included in the "Dark Knight" script, Holmes officially exited due to scheduling conflicts.

Gyllenhaal recently earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work in "Sherrybaby." Her other 2006 credits included "Stranger than Fiction," "World Trade Center" and "Monster House."