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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP; plus the weekend's Guild Awards

One more post before ol' Father Geek here has to leave Geek Headquarters for today's lineup of panels, parties; and film at the SXSW Film Festival... For those interested our own Headgeek, Harry will be sharing a panel's stage with TROMA Film's Lloyd Kaufman from 3:30 till 5 and then will be celebrating the offical North American Premiere of his book AINT IT COOL at an Austin Convention Center party and signing as a part of the SXSW festival's lineup immediately there after. It will go on for a couple of hours... at least.

The big news out of last week is Ron Howard nabbing the Director's Guild award for A BEAUTIFUL MIND at the guild's ceremony Saturday, and the Screen Actor's Guild awards on Sunday which went to Russell Crowe for best actor in A BEAUTIFUL MIND; Halle Berry as best actress in MONSTER'S BALL; Helen Mirren got best supporting actress in GOSFORD PARK; annnnnd Sir Ian McKellen took home the best supporting actor award for LOTR: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

Now here's Elston with...



Hey guys. Hope all is well. I was gone all weekend, or this would've been sent sooner.


* Jason Isaacs, Miriam Margolyes and Mark Williams have joined the cast of HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS for Warner Bros. and director Chris Columbus.

* Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci will star in Woody Allen's next film, which begins shooting late spring for DreamWorks.

* John C. McGinley joins the whodunit pic I.D. James Mangold directs.

* Shawn Hatosy (JOHN Q) joins William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin in Content Film's THE COOLER for writer/director Wayne Kramer.

* Ethan Embry is in final talks to join Gerard Butler, Paul Walker and Frances O'Connor in the action pic TIMELINE for Paramount and director Richard Donner.

* Kerry Washington (SAVE THE LAST DANCE) joins Meg Ryan and Omar Epps in AGAINST THE ROPES for Franchise Films and Paramount.

* Keanu Reeves is in negotiations with Jersey Films/3 Arts to star in a remake of Tom Laughlin's 1971 hit BILLY JACK. The original was about a half-Native American Vietnam vet who challenged the establishment and championed a group of runaway teens as well as the environment in an Arizona town.

* Jamie Foxx is set to star in the golf comedy INGLE WOODS for New Line Cinema. Duane Martin (ANY GIVEN SUNDAY) will also star in the project which is based on his original idea. The story follows Ingle Woods, a man who haphazardly lands a spot on golf's PGA tour. There, he not only shows a talent for the sport but also finally tries to prove that Tiger Woods is his long-lost cousin.

* Edward Burns is in talks to star in A SOUND OF THUNDER, based on the Ray Bradbury short story of the same name, for director Peter Hyams (END OF DAYS) and Franchise Pictures. It's set in a future where people jump back in time to hunt prehistoric wildlife. However, all participants make sure only to kill that which is meant to die, thus preserving the integrity of the timeline. When a tourist unknowingly squashes a prehistoric butterfly, he sets in motion a series of "time waves" that will erase humanity from existence.

* Jack Palance, Kelli Garner and Brad Renfro are in final talks to join Santiago Segura in RV (aka THE VACATION) for writer/director Kevin Allen. The pic is about the eccentric lives of people in a trailer park in Alabama. Production begins in April.

* Kristen Wilson (DR. DOLITTLE) joins CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND for director George Clooney.

* Mike Myers will star as the cat in DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT with Bo Welch directing for Imagine Entertainment, Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures. Shooting begins this fall.

* Tom Arnold joins the cast of CRADLE TO THE GRAVE for director Andrzej Bartkowiak and producer Joel Silver. Shooting begins this month.

* Natascha McElhone will star alongside George Clooney in SOLARIS, the Steven Soderbergh-helmed sci-fi thriller for 20th Century Fox.

* Glenn Close, Matthew Modine and Stephen Fry have joined the cast of the comedy LE DIVORCE for director James Ivory. Naomi Watts, Kate Hudson, Stockard Channing, James Waterston, Leslie Caron, Thierry Lhermitte and Melvil Poupaud also star. The feature is about two American sisters confronted with the complexities of French bourgeois society.

* Benicio Del Toro will star in a remake of the 1974 Sam Peckinpah film BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA for MGM and music video/commerical director Samuel Bayer. The screenplay will be written by Harvard English professor Mateo Silva.

* Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton are starring in the sensual thriller YOUNG ADAM, based on the 1954 novel by Alexander Trocci, for director David McKenzie. Peter Mullan and Emily Mortimer also star.

* Marisa Tomei is in talks to star opposite Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in Revolution Studios' comedy ANGER MANAGEMENT for director Peter Segal. Shooting begins April 1.

* Will Smith and Martin Lawrence will reteam with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay for BAD BOYS 2.


* Michael Lehmann (40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS) will direct the romantic comedy THE RAIN IN SPAIN for Industry Entertainment and Miramax Films. Frank Cappello wrote the screenplay about a bomber that crashed off the coast of Spain during the 1960s, leaving four undetonated hydrogen bombs in a nearby village. A young U.S. armed forces lawyer is sent to appease the villagers, while the Army and Navy clean up the mess. As the lawyer's stay is prolonged, he becomes enchanted by the village's charms.

* Alan Rudolph will direct the indie pic THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS, starring Campbell Scott and Hope Davis, for Holedigger Films. Production starts in Westchester County, N.Y., on March 13. Craig Lucas adapted the screenplay based on Jane Smiley's novella THE AGE OF GRIEF and focuses on a dentist who is married with kids. The line between dream and reality becomes blurred when he falls ill and has a fever dream.

* Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox are developing a feature about the Crusades, when Christians were sent by the church to forcefully spread their faith across Europe and Jerusalem, and have hired William Monahan to write the script. Scott hopes to direct the project in 2003, possibly starting this winter.

* John Scott Shepherd's (LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT) novel HENRY'S LIST OF WRONGS will be published in April, and David O. Russell is polishing Shepherd's own adaptation for New Line, with Stephen Herek eying it as a possible directing vehicle. Shepherd's script PRINCE OF POOLS has been set up with producer John Wells and Warner Bros. It's about a married couple with a house and kids who are tempted by a Hollywood producer friend who visits them and convinces the two they should want more. Shepherd is also writing TONIC for Revolution Studios as a possible Julia Roberts/Adam Sandler pic about a female con artist who claims to have discovered female Viagra.

* Beth Rigazio and Patrick Clifton's script STICK IT, about a female figure skater forced to become a hockey player to get a scholarship, is being produced by John Scott Shepherd's Warp & Weft.

* Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS) will document the making of Metallica's new album as well as the personal lives of its members. The two have shot hundreds of hours of footage since last April during a period when the band's bassist quit and its singer entered rehab.

* Universal snatched up the script PENNY DREADFUL: GHOST DETECTIVE from writer Darin Scott for Jersey Films to produce. It's a family-oriented pic about a spooky psychic girl who saves her town from an evil witch.

* Mike Newell will develop and direct the period romance MRS. DARWIN about the battle Charles Darwin wages with the world, through the eyes of his wife, Emma. Tim Rose Price (THE SERPENT'S KISS) will write the script for Catch 23 Entertainment.

* Linda Bloodworth ("Designing Women" creator) has sold the romantic comedy script BOBBY EWING to Columbia Pictures. It's about an immigrant, who has learned English from watching episodes of "Dallas," desperately attempting to sneak into the country because he loves America so much. After countless attempts, he starts to fall for an Immigration and Naturalization Service agent who has trouble resisting his obsession with the American way of life.

* Stuart Beattie will rewrite the Jay Wolpert script of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN for Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The studio hopes to begin production this summer.

* Jean-Pierre Jeunet (AMELIE) is in talks to direct a French-language feature adaptation of Sebastien Japrisot's novel UN LONG DIMANCHE DE FIANCAILLES (A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT) for Warner Bros. Jeunet will co-write the pic with Guillaume Laurant. It's about five French conscripts who are forced into the snowy wastes between the French and German lines and possibly executed as a brutal punishment for having tried to escape the war. Two years later, the wheelchair-bound lover of the youngest soldier ventures to find out if her fiance is still alive.

* Gary Fleder (DON'T SAY A WORD) will direct RUNAWAY JURY, based on the John Grisham novel, for Regency Enterprises.

* John Moore (BEHIND ENEMY LINES) will direct a remake of the 1965 action/adventure pic THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX for 20th Century Fox and TCF. The original focused on a group of men stranded in the Sahara desert following a plane crash. With no way out, they try to build a plane using pieces from the wreckage. Scott Frank penned the most recent draft, setting the story in the Mongolian desert.

* Paul W.S. Anderson will write and produce a sequel to RESIDENT EVIL for Constantin Film and Sony's Screen Gems.

* Revolution Studios has grabbed an untitled pitch from filmmaker Ron Shelton, who will write, direct and co-produce the project with Lou Pitt. The project is about a young cop and older cop, both of whom moonlight in other jobs and get themselves involved in a crime within the music business. Shelton will write the project with retired police officer-turned-screenwriter Robert Souza.

* Nick Cassavetes (JOHN Q) is in final talks to direct THE NOTEBOOK for New Line Cinema, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. It's about a retired salesman who continually visits an old woman in a nursing home. On each visit, he reads from a notebook a story about two men vying for the same woman in 1940s North Carolina. It soon becomes clear the patient is the woman in the notebook and the narrator one of her two suitors.

* Producer Laura Bickford has acquired Tatiana Blackington's script MATA HARI about the life of the notorious spy and courtesan. The screenwriter has also penned THE WINTER DANCE, an as-yet-unproduced French Revolution drama.

* Stan Zimmerman and Jim Berg have sold their action-comedy pitch COPS & ROBBERS to Disney, with Mike Mitchell (DEUCE BIGALOW) attached to direct for Immortal Entertainment. Zimmerman and Berg will write the screenplay, a spoof of action buddy pics with kids playing adults in all the roles.

* April Blair's action comedy script OPERATION: SPY GIRL was picked up by Jersey Films. It's about a young secretary who rises to international field operative despite being unqualified for the job.

* MGM purchased John Patrick Nelson's script BOUNTY to be produced by Zide/Perry Entertainment. It's about a supernatural killer in the Old West and the bounty hunter tracking him down.

* Landscape Pictures has set up the comedy pitch LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR, based on an idea by Chuck Weinstock (JOE GOULD'S SECRET), at New Line Cinema. It's the story of an ad exec who's approaching 40 and fears he's losing his touch. He looks for the lowest common denominator: the 15-year-old boy who wears cool clothes, spots hot trends and is usually ahead of the curve. When he finds this creature, however, it turns out to be a 30-year-old who lives in his mom's basement.

* Peter Berg will revamp his directing gig TRUCK 44 as part of a producing and directing deal at Radar Pictures. He is rewriting the pic about firefighters who inadvertently start a blaze while robbing a ritzy apartment building. He'll also direct the drama NAUTICA, which the late Ted Demme was slated to direct for Columbia Pictures. It's about three friends whose yachting trip to the Bahamas goes awry.

* DreamWorks has optioned Mickey Birnbaum's script USED GUYS for Red Hour Films. It's a buddy sci-fi comedy set in a near-future L.A. in which women buy and trade men like used cars.

* Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele (ALI and NIXON) are in talks to rewrite the naval action thriller DREADNOUGHT for Columbia Pictures. It's about the accidental downing of a civilian jetliner in the Atlantic by the Navy's most sophisticated ship.

* Sidney Lumet will write THE SET UP for RKO Pictures and is in discussions to direct. Production is scheduled to begin Oct. 1. The project is a boxing tale that addresses issues of integrity and courage.

* Dean Parisot will develop and direct SPRING BREAK IN BOSNIA for Grand Via Prods. Based on true events, it's about a trio of tourists who, through a misunderstanding, become embroiled in a CIA effort to capture a notorious Bosnian war criminal.

* DreamWorks Pictures grabbed Vic Levin's romantic comedy spec WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON with Red Wagon Prods. on board to produce. It's about what happens when the hottest movie star in Hollywood does battle with a West Virginia grocery store employee over a sweet small-town girl who has won a date with the celeb in a contest.

* Ridley Scott will next direct the historical drama TRIPOLI from a script by William Monahan for 20th Century Fox. It's about the true story of William Eaton, an American who helped the rightful heir to the throne of Tripoli lead an overthrow of a corrupt ruler who was oppressing the population in the early 1800s.

* Marc Forster will shoot the AIDS drama DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, possibly starring Brad Pitt. Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack wrote the script. It's about the true story of Ron Woodroof, who founded one of the most risky and effective AIDS-related disease management efforts in the early to mid-80s. He tested illegal drugs on himself to prolong his life six years and help thousands of people with AIDS. However, his initial main motive was profit, not to help people whose lifestyles he found somewhere between ridiculous and repugnant. Though after losing his family and friends after he was identified HIV positive, Woodroof began his experimentation -- and eventually befriended many in the gay community.


* Produer Scott Rudin has optioned the film rights to author Michael Chabon's next novel HATZEPLATZ from a a 1-1/2-page proposal. The story is a thriller set in an imaginary world inspired by FDR's short-lived plan to create a Jewish homeland in Alaska, rather than in the Middle East. The protagonist is a Jewish detective, married to an Eskimo, who tries to solve a murder in the community.

* Columbia Pictures and John Baldecchi Prods. have optioned Robert Frank's novel THE RISING about an unusual Detroit boy who is discovered to have the ability to revive the dead with a single touch.

* Although Tom Cruise has officially passed on COLD MOUNTAIN, based on the prize-winning Civil War epic adapted by Anthony Minghella, the project will begin productio in July.

* Columbia Pictures has grabbed the film rights to the classic property THE LONE RANGER for Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher to produce through their Red Wagon Entertainment. The project will chronicle the adventures of a masked man known as the Lone Ranger, his horse Silver and trusty companion Tonto, staying within the classic Western genre but will incorporate a new interpretation.

* Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner are developing the third installment of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE at Paramount. They may be hoping to reel in David Fincher to helm the project.

* Columbia Pictures and Tall Trees are developing a movie of India Knight's novel DON'T YOU WANT ME, while Universal and Tribeca optioned the screen rights to the Claire Berlinski novel LOOSE LIPS. Knight's story focuses on a single mother in her late 30s who reenters the dating market and tries to find love and sex. LOOSE LIPS is a comedy about a young woman who browses the Internet, comes across a CIA recruitment ad, and soon becomes part of the training program while falling for a fellow trainee.

* New Line Cinema is buying North American and Italian rights to a "toned-down, modern refiguring" of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE to be produced by Michael Bay. Shooting begins this summer.

* Southpaw Media has optioned feature film rights to the historical novel ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN: THE JOURNALS OF MAY DODD by Jim Fergus, as well as WE ARE CHILDREN JUST THE SAME, the latter in partnership with Fearless Films. SAME is a compilation of short stories, poems and artwork created by a group of 13- to 15-year old Jewish boys in the Terezin concentration camp during World War II.

* Paramount Pictures is developing an updated version of John Frankenheimer's 1962 classic THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. Tina Sinatra will produce with Scott Rudin.


(NOT from the trades)

* Go to This Site of Coolness for the next installment of THE TRUE STORY INVESTIGATION. "This new session is a secret ... and will disappear forever very soon."

* Visit Right Here for a weekly comic in the vein of DILBERT and THE FAR SIDE for writers.

* Cinema Next, Inc. has created a multi-path live-action short flick entitled DUAL, a spoof of Spielberg's made-for-TV movie DUEL. Users may interact with the story line at specific "choice points" and affect the final outcome for the main character. Available exclusively at This Cool Location. Also visit for more info.

* Submissions deadline to the Los Angeles Film Festival is March 22, 2002. Go to Their Site for details.

* announces: The 8th Annual $10,000 Screenwriting Showcase Awards. For more information, visit

* Jurassic Punk has the new Spider-Man TV spot up on their site. See it at This Spot

* MPS Digital Studios has changed their domain to Visit their site for info on their various projects.

Until next week... Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Elston Gunn

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