UPDATE: The other actresses on the short-list have been informed that the female lead will go to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, so unless things fall apart at the negotiating table, she’s the new Transformers 3 gal.

EARLIER: Newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has become the front-runner to replace Megan Fox as Shia LaBeouf’s love interest in Transformers 3. Insiders say that Bay is down to a short-list of three actresses, but is focused on the model after she read for the role last Friday. On the short-list with Huntington-Whiteley is Sarah Wright and Brooklyn Decker. Wright has appeared in Surfer, Dude and The House Bunny. Decker is the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue model who got her first big starring role opposite Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in the comedy Just Go With It, which might be retitled to Pretend Wife.

Paramount began production May 17 in Los Angeles on Transformers 3, but Bay has another week to make his final decision. The actress won’t begin shooting scenes with Shia for two weeks. Bay wants to launch a fresh face, and that would be the case for all three but especially for Huntington-Whitely, whose only IMDB credits are several appearances in the TV special The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Bay has worked with her on several Victoria’s Secret campaigns, I’m told.