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Notes from a Darkened Theater: Happy Returns for Zoolander and Rambo?

Ben Stiller is no stranger to sequels.

Fresh off the dual successes of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Tropic Thunder, his decade-in-the-making passion project about a group of coddled actors lost in the jungles of Laos, he was already set to reprise his starring role in Night at the Museum, with a sequel due in May 2009. And though Stiller has confirmed plans for a third installment of his Meet the Parents saga – no surprise there, given its sustained success at the box office – he recently admitted that he’d like to bring back a character whose appeal proved more elusive the first time around: Derek Zoolander, the titular hero of his 2001 satire about the witless world of male models.

“I’ve been trying to get Zoolander 2 together and we’ve had a few scripts,” he tells WENN. “That is the sequel I really would like to do some day because I like the original and I would make sure it was something new and worthy of it first.”

Although Stiller acknowledges that Zoolander’s return is still years away because of the lack of a finished script, he reports that the project is closer to production now than it has ever been, which can only be good news for fans of Blue Steel, freak gasoline-fight accidents and fashion mogul Mugatu, inventor of the piano-key necktie.

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Speaking of potential returns, Sylvester Stallone is set to resurrect John Rambo for the second time in two years, thanks to Rambo’s surprisingly strong showing last winter. Although the 62-year-old muscleman vowed to retire his traumatized Vietnam vet after the last go-round – “I can’t go any further,” he said at the time – Lionsgate’s schedule of projects in development includes Rambo 5.

“Rambo hopefully will be back,” Stallone recently told TMZ. “We’ve just got to give you a story that’s worthwhile.”

Whether that story will include the gang of white supremacists Rambo was purportedly gearing up to extinguish in the fourth installment (before deciding to manhandle Burmese insurgents instead) is anybody’s guess. Osama bin Laden is still out there if Rambo feels like helping Barack Obama clean up the universe – though America’s foremost fictional freedom-fighter doesn’t have much use for politics.

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Finally, Choke will return to theaters for two nights at the Red Vic Movie House starting Dec. 9. If you missed Clark Gregg’s endearingly flawed and diabolically funny take on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel about emotionally stunted sex addicts, here’s your second chance. Take it.