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Dwight Howard to voice cartoon turkey in time-traveling turkey movie

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Dwight Howard should not have made Kobe Bryant angry (Jeff Kravitz/ FilmMagic).

Although his Los Angeles Lakers were bounced from the playoffs many moons ago, NBA All-Star Dwight Howard continues to grab headlines. On Friday, the soon-to-be free agent has already earned attention on this very page for having regular communication with Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons and texting with fellow free agent Chris Paul about teaming up South Beach-style after hitting the open market. With the NBA Finals now more than half-finished, it's time to ramp up the rumors and speculate wildly.

Howard is a full person, though, and not just a basketball player deciding on his future professional home. He has goals, desires, and curiosities that cannot be defined solely by his athletic abilities. And that's why he's going to voice a turkey in an animated movie about time-traveling turkeys.

It's called "Free Birds" — not "Time Turkeys," sadly — and here's the synopsis from IMDb (via Deadspin):

Two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history - and get turkey off the holiday menu for good.

I find it a little hard to believe that any Hollywood studio would make a movie that ends with turkey not being served at Thanksgiving, but maybe the Dream Factory will have some surprises in store for audiences. Or maybe it's a very serious film about turkeys excepting their fate and submitting to wholesale slaughter. The director also made "Jonah Hex," so he knows what it takes to create a hit!

Howard's role is likely small — he's billed thirteenth, behind stars Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler and noteworthy supporting cast Keith David and Colm Meaney — but he is no amateur. As our Dan Devine noted way back in September, Howard has done voiceover work on the Disney Channel series "Kick Buttowski" as a superhero facing off against a villain voiced by "Pardon the Interruption" host Tony Reali. (This is all true, I swear.) He has what it takes to bring real depth of feeling to the character of Cold Turkey (whose name is a pun, in case you didn't notice).

Howard has received some criticism in recent seasons for not appearing sufficiently invested in his basketball career, almost as if he'd prefer to be a well-liked celebrity to a widely respected champion. Those two public images aren't mutually exclusive, but this news probably isn't going to help Howard's cause.

On the other hand, he will probably be more likely to receive another invitation to the Kids' Choice Awards to get slimed. So, you know, maybe the tradeoff is worth it.

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