Paramount has confirmed to me exclusively that it’s hired 8-pack-abs Taylor Lautner for the lead in Max Steel, instantly creating perhaps the next young big action star. (The Twilight Saga phenom is only 17 years old, and the Summit Entertainment folks predicted to me a year ago that he’d end up in demand for this kind of role after he bulked up for New Moon.) This is the Joe Roth-produced project based on the hugely successful Mattel property that’s an international bestseller. The movie will receive a major push planned as Mattel raises its stateside presence with the Paramount release. I’m told Max Steel will be a four-quadrant popcorn movie in the spirit of Iron Man about a 19-year-old extreme sports junkie recruited by a secret agency after an accident infects his body, leaving him with superhuman powers. The screenwriters are also young, Chad Damiani & JP Lavin, who started getting attention around town with their action-comedy script Kamikaza Love as well as Sons Of The Hammer and Capeshooters. This is yet another big young action star for the studio under Paramount Film Group president Adam Goodman along with the recent announcement that Chris Pine is attached to the Jack Ryan franchise from Tom Clancy. Then there’s Shia LaBeouf, whom then DreamWorks exec Goodman put in Disturbia which he was overseeing, and Paramount cast in the Transformers franchise. Smart to start the youth movement (Sony Pics did that with Tobey Maguire and Spider-Man), not just because the young-uns can play the part for years, but even better they won’t break a hip doing it.