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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Father Geek here bringing you another news filled edition of Elston's long running (5 years) AICN column that brings you up to date on all the Tinseltown happenings of the past week... a perfect place to quickly catch up on anything you may have missed during the most recent busy work-week... sooooo relax, and prepare to dive into...




* Mark Wahlberg will star in THE ADVENTURES OF WYATT MCHENRY for Paramount and Icon Prods., based on a manuscript that is to be the first of a series of yet-to-be-published novels by Rick Gibb. The project is described as a contemporary Indiana Jones about an adventure tour guide who trades in modern antiquities.

* Camryn Manheim, Damian Lewis and Becca Gardner join Jennifer Lopez and Robert Redford in AN UNFINISHED LIFE for director Lasse Hallstrom, Miramax Films and Revolution Studios. Morgan Freeman and Josh Lucas also star in the film, which is shooting in British Columbia.

* Anthony Anderson will star opposite Frankie Muniz in MGM's sequel to AGENT CODY BANKS, playing a special operative handler, for director Kevin Allen. Shooting begins next month in London.

* Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, Sam Neill and Shirley Henderson star in YES for writer/director Sally Potter and GreeneStreet Films. It's the story of a love affair between a married American scientist and a Lebanese cook living in exile in London.

* Kathryn Morris joins John Woo's PAYCHECK, starring Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart and Michael C. Hall.

* Angela Bassett will star opposite Bernie Mac in the Disney's baseball comedy MR. 3000 for director Charles Stone (DRUMLINE). It's about a retired Detroit Tigers player who comes out of retirement when three of his base hits are disallowed, dropping him below the 3,000-hit mark.

* Gerard Butler has been offered the starring role as the man behind the mask in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for director Joel Schumacher. Anne Hathaway and Emmy Rossum have emerged as the top choices to play the female lead, Christine.

* Arnold Schwarzenegger and British actor-comedian John Cleese have signed to play cameo roles in Walden Media's AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. Kathy Bates will play Queen Victoria in the film in which she's starring opposite Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Jim Broadbent, Johnny Knoxville and Cecile de France for director Frank Coraci.

* Ben Stiller will star in and produce the comedy UNDERDOGS for 20th Century Fox and writer/director Rawson Thurber. Vince Vaughn and Stiller's wife, Christine Taylor, are in talks to star in the film, which concerns a small gym threatened with demise unless it can defeat a behemoth fitness center in a dodgeball competition.

* Erika Christensen, Mandy Moore, Lauren Ambrose and Alicia Witt are in talks to star opposite Joan Allen and Kevin Costner in Mike Binder's MDP Worldwide feature THE UPSIDE OF ANGER. Production begins in late August or early September. It's a family drama about a mother and her four strong-willed daughters who must suddenly deal with life without a husband/father. Costner will play a former baseball player and friend of the family.

* David Boreanaz, Edward Furlong, Dennis Hopper and Tara Reid will star in WICKED PRAYER, the fourth installment of the CROW franchise for director Lance Muniga (SIX-STRING SAMURAI), Dimension Films and producers Edward R. Pressman and Jeff Most. Emmanuelle Chriqui, Danny Trejo, Marcus Chong and Tito Ortiz also star in the project that begins shooting in June. Set in the Southwest, the story follows ex-con Jimmy Cuervo and his girlfriend, Lily, who are murdered by Luc Crash and his satanic gang Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as part of a ritual for Crash to become an immortal demon.

* Anne Archer, James LeGros and Nora Dunn are in talks to join Courteney Cox Arquette in NOVEMBER for director Greg Harrison and IFC's InDigEnt banner. Benjamin Brand wrote the project about a photographer who has trouble coping after her boyfriend is tragically shot to death in a convenience store robbery. As she struggles to put the event behind her, her life begins to splinter, and the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred.

* Billy Crudup and Claire Danes will star in COMPLEAT FEMALE STAGE BEAUTY for director Richard Eyre (IRIS) and Artisan Picutres. Jeffrey Hatcher adapted his own play about Edward Kynaston, renowned for his ability to play female roles on the English stage at a time when men played all the parts. That changed in 1661, and the romantic drama revolves around Kynaston's attempt to reinvent himself as a man. Meanwhile, the young woman who had been his dresser is fast becoming a star playing the parts he once owned.

* Adam Garcia will star opposite Lindsay Lohan and Alison Pill in Disney's CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN for director Sara Sugarman.

* Eve, Benjamin Bratt and Kyra Sedgwick are in talkss to star opposite Kevin Bacon in THE WOODSMAN for writer/director Nicole Kassell and Lee Daniels Entertainment. Shooting begins this month in Philadelphia with David Alan Grier and Michael Shannon also starring. It concerns a man who returns to his hometown after 12 years in prison and tries to start a new life working at a power plant. He struggles with past demons but resists the temptations, proving to himself that he's cured of the pedophilia that plagued him for years.

* John Turturro and Maria Bello will star opposite Johnny Depp in Columbia Pictures' SECRET WINDOW, SECRET GARDEN for writer/director David Koepp. Timothy Hutton and Ving Rhames are in talks to join the cast as well. The project, based on a Stephen King novella, is about a writer going through a painful divorce who is stalked by a psychotic stranger claiming that the writer stole his story but changed the ending.

* Kiersten Warren (THE DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD) joins the cast of 13 GOING ON 30, starring Jennifer Garner.

* Jennifer Garner will replace Gwyneth Paltrow in Stratus Film Co.'s indie pic HAPPY ENDINGS. Lisa Kudrow is also attached to star for writer/director Don Roos. Shooting begins this summer.

* Maggie Gyllenhaal is in talks to join John C. Reilly and Diego Luna in the Warner Bros. Pictures feature CRIMINAL (aka NINE QUEENS) for director Gregory Jacobs and Section Eight Prods.

* Ray Liotta and James Todd Smith (aka LL Cool J) will star in the thriller SLOW BURN for writer/director Wayne Beach, GreeneStreet Films, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Bonnie Timmermann Prods. It's about a politically ambitious DA being manipulated by a beautiful assistant DA and an mysterious stranger as he engages in a 24-hour showdown with a powerful gang leader.

* John Cho (AMERICAN PIE) and Kal Penn (MALIBU'S MOST WANTED) will star in HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE for director Danny Leiner (DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?), Senator Intl. and New Line Cinema. Shooting begins May 12 in Toronto. Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (MAX KEEBLE'S BIG MOVE) wrote the script. It's about two overachievers from immigrant families who break away from their parents' high expectations for one very eventful night.


* Hanna Weg will write a futuristic romance thriller script for Fox 2000 and Icon Prods. based on the first two books in the Nora Roberts IN DEATH series. The books follow the life and investigations of New York police Lt. Eve Dallas.

* Steven Brill (MR. DEEDS) is in talks to direct the Paramount comedy WITHOUT A PADDLE for producer Donald De Line. It's about three lifelong friends who find themselves on a canoe trip in search of a $200,000 treasure. They are unaware of the obstacles in front of them, among them a dangerous river and crazy mountain men.

* Ken Loach will direct AE FOND KISS, which will be the final part of his "Glasgow trilogy," following MY NAME IS JOE and SWEET SIXTEEN. All three pics are scripted by Paul Laverty and produced by Rebecca O'Brien. Production begins in June.

* Focus Features picked up the horror/thriller script REVOLVER from Adam Sussman to be produced in the fall. It's about a troubled young woman traveling across the midwest who discovers she may be reincarnated and that supernatural forces have brought her there to avenge her own murder.

* Diane English ("Murphy Brown" creator) will write and direct the romantic comedy FIRST MAN for Pfeffer Film. The project will focus on the shift in the balance of power in a marriage when a husband gives up his post as CEO of a successful company after his wife is elected the first female president of the United States.

* Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris (X2) will write Fox's new adaptation of the CHARLIE CHAN franchise with Lucy Liu attached to star and produce.

* Warner Bros. has snapped up an untitled thriller for Paul Walker to star in and possibly produce. Brian Horiuchi will write the script which is set in the Philippines with drug runs and modern-day pirates fought by a courageous and reckless leader of a drug interdiction squad.

* New Line purchased the comedy spec MR. WOODCOCK from writers Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert with Landscape Pictures set to produce. It's about a young man who returns to his hometown to stop his mother from marrying his old high school gym teacher, whom made his life a living hell when he was a student.

* Adam and Melanie Wilson will write the CGI-animated adaptation of RAPUNZEL for Disney.

* John Benito will direct the action thriller SILVER STRIKE for Fox 2000. Jay Barton Mitchell wrote the script about a military unit that goes down in Eastern Europe and discovers its enemies aren't local militants but werewolves.

* Colin Teague is directing the gangster pic SPIVS in London from his own script for Carnaby Prods. and Content Intl. Ken Stott, Nick Moran, Kate Ashfield and Dominic Monaghan star. When a simple job goes wrong, they find themselves protecting a couple of illegal immigrants against smugglers who want to sell them into the sex trade.

* Pedro Almodovar will direct BAD EDUCATION for El Deseo and Sony Pictures Classics. Production begins in Spain this month. Gael Garcia Bernal (Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN), Fele Martinez (THESIS) and Daniel Gimenez Cacho (DEEP CRIMSON) star in the story that examines the consequences of religious schooling on two adult men.

* Mark Perez will write THE HARDY MEN for Fox 2000 and Red Hour Films, loosely based on THE HARDY BOYS series following the boys after they grow up. Although they haven't spoken since they ended their detective partnership 15 years earlier, they reteam when their father is kidnapped.

* Steve Conrad (WRESTLING ERNEST HEMINGWAY) sold his script THE WEATHERMAN to Escape Artists about a divorced TV weatherman who tries to reconcile with his estranged wife and kids.

* Ben Affleck is writing the script for Alan Ladd's Paramount project, GONE BABY GONE, in which he'll also star and possibly direct. Jennifer Lopez may also join the project about a hard-boiled Boston private eye.

* Melissa Gould will write a potential sequel to THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE for Disney.

* Columbia Pictures picked up Holly Brix's script BACKYARD RESISTANCE about a young boy and his gang of friends who fight to keep an evil British kingpin and his ninja henchman from using the power of an ancient Chinese urn.

* Harvey Weinstein is planning to direct an adaptation of Leon Uris' Holocaust book MILA 18 with Hossein Amini writing the script, Dante Feretti as production designer and Martin Scorsese as an adviser. Production is expected to begin next summer.

* Shane Black (THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT scribe) will write and direct the Hollywood murder mystery noir pic YOU'LL NEVER DIE IN THIS TOWN AGAIN for producer Joel Silver. Black has also written the buddy action script THE NICE GUYS with Anthony Bagarozzi.

* Ray Lawrence (LANTANA) will direct JINDABYNE for Icon Entertainment about the frailty of marriage and relationships. Beatrix Christian wrote the script, which is inspired by a Raymond Carver short story. Production is due to start in New South Wales in January.

* George Romero will direct the vampire pic THE ILL for P-Kino Films and IN-motion Pictures. It's about a college slacker who falls in love with a mysterious East European exchange student. Shooting starts late summer.


* Producer Lawrence Bender and indie production company milkshakefilms are developing GOAL!, the story of a young Latino man who makes his way from Los Angeles to England with hopes of becoming a Premier League soccer star. The producers will launch the project as the first in a trilogy.

* Distant Horizon and Flipbook Communications are wokring bring the urban-underground comic book BROTHERMAN to the big screen. Based on the comic series by Jason and Guy Sims and Dawud Anyabwile, the story follows Antonio Valor, a public defender by day and costumed avenger by night, as he goes up against the dark forces lurking in Big City, U.S.A.

* George Lucas is bringing back the classic characters Chewbacca the Wookie, C-3PO and R2-D2 for the upcoming STAR WARS EPISODE III. Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniel and Kenny Baker will reprise their original roles.

* Columbia Pictures grabbed Edward Eager's book HALF MAGIC for David Heyman to produce alongside Sunbow Entertainment. The story, first published in 1954, is a comedy about four children who wish that they could have a magical adventure like the ones they read about in their favorite books. They embark on a wondrous journey when they find a talisman that turns out to be half magic.

* Universal Pictures has put the HEART OF A SOLDIER into turnaround. Paul Walker and helmer Rod Lurie remain attached to star and direct.

* Emmett/Furla Films will produce THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN with Ilya Salkind and Gale Anne Hurd. It's based on the Snowman legend, which says that enormous and savage ape-men, or "yeti," stalk the Himalayan Mountains.

* Vinton Studios will produce Tim Burton's stop-motion animated film THE CORPSE BRIDE for Warner Bros. Pictures. Production begins in November in London. It's based on a 19th century Eastern European folk tale and is described as an offbeat fable about a young man who inadvertently becomes betrothed to a corpse. Caroline Thompson (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS) is writing the script to be directed by Mike Johnson.

* Dimension Films has optioned rights to "O Sister Where Art Thou," a Texas Monthly article by Skip Hollandsworth about a group of eight female Texas prison inmates who formed a singing act hoping it might gain them early release in the 1940s. Todd Phillips' Gentlemen Pictures is set to produce.

* Kingsborough Pictures and I Cinema Television Inc. have optioned the life rights of late jazz star Chet Baker to develop into a feature film. The project will center on the year 1960, when Baker lived in Rome, enjoyed international stardom and romanced English fashion model Carol Jackson.

* John and Joan Cusack have dropped out of Paramount's remake of THE STEPFORD WIVES for family reasons. Matthew Broderick and Bette Midler are in negotiations to replace them.

* Revolution Studios snapped up the comedy CHEER UP in turnaround from Warner Bros. Pictures. Tommy Lee Jones is attached to star for director Stephen Herek as an FBI agent forced to go undercover as an assistant cheerleading coach to protect a group of college cheerleaders after they witness a murder. Rob Ramsey and Matt Stone (INTOLERABLE CRUELTY) are rewriting the script.


(NOT from the trades)

* Check out the trailer for Mark Hosack's sci-fi pic PALE BLUE MOON at http://

* Several of the sketches from Sonnyboo Productions will be hosted on the official Second City web page,, in their TRIPWIRE section in the near future.

* An in-depth interview for In Focus magazine with Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich -- two of the Pixar conspirators behind FINDING NEMO can be found at

* Check out Metreon's FREE anime screenings of popular Bandai Entertainment titles during the months of May, June and July, inside Metreon's Action Theatre. Visit for more information!

* Now that the Iraqi War is over, Saddam has to find a new job. Watch "Saddam's Hot Jobs" at

Until next week.

Elston Gunn

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