That Cinema Blend rumor about Tom Hanks agreeing to play Professor Robert Langdon again in Angels & Demons is correct; ditto that Hanks is getting paid a whopping salary. But filming on Angels & Demons won’t be starting in July, as the Blend story suggested, because Ron Howard‘s film version of Frost/Nixon, based on the acclaimed play by Peter Morgan, will absolutely begin shooting in August (i.e., four months hence) and be in theatres by the early fall of ’08.

This is rock-solid fact. No maybe-ass cocktail chatter. Take it to the bank.

Angels and Demons, meanwhile, will roll film in February ’08 and be in theatres by sometime in December of that year. Obviously the next eighteen months will be quite a time for Howard, shooting two films back-to-back and releasing them within three or four months of each other. A smart film for people of taste and refinement that will presumably make a profit, and a less-sophisticated film for people who read airport fiction that will make hundreds of millions.

Howard is doing Frost/Nixon being he loves the play, but I’ll bet he also sees it as a karma balancer and a creative-image counterweight. The pundits and critics would kill him if he were going to confine himself to just making Angels and Demons, a sequel to the profitable but widely despised The Da Vinci Code. His producing and directing a film version of a highly respected play like Frost/Nixon will dissuade media types from bringing up past grudges. Now they’ll say, “Aaaah, give him a pass.”

Frost/Nixon focuses on the backstage machinations behind the legendary series of interviews that British TV personality David Frost did with ex-President Richard Nixon in ’75. Frank Langella played Nixon during the plays’s London run and is reprising that role in the the soon-to-open B’way version. Michael Sheen — Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen — played Frost in London and costars in the New York presentation.

Howard has surely decided who to cast in Frost/Nixon but “no firm offers” have been sent along to anyone’s agent thus far. (I’ve been told that Sheen will almost certainly get the Frost part, but I wonder if Howard, who likes to work with big movie stars, will use Langella.