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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Father Geek here with Elston's latest on Tinseltown happenings. Yep, All those Hollywood stories that you may have been too busy during the past work-week to pick up on are collected right here in one easy to wade thru location, a regular weekly AICN column called...

The Weekly Recap...



* Emmy Rossum (SONGCATCHER) is in talks to star as the female lead opposite Gerard Butler in Andrew Lloyd Webber's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for director Joel Schumacher. Production begins in October. Patrick Wilson also stars.

* Nicolas Cage will star in Disney's NATIONAL TREASURE for director Jon Turtletaub. It's about a secret code in the U.S. Constitution that bears the whereabouts of a treasure buried during the 1700s. The project is being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Turtletaub and Christina Steinberg.

* Jet Li will star in the Disney action project LABOR DAY to be directed by Robert Schwentke (TATTOO). Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris wrote the original screenplay, with Jack Olsen doing a rewrite. Schwentke and Mitch Brian will do another draft. The story centers on an ambitious assistant DA who gets the job of prosecuting the son of an elusive crime lord. When the DA's pregnant wife is taken hostage by the crime lord, the prosecutor asks for help from his wife's ex-boyfriend, a Chinese gangster.

* Ewan McGregor is in talks to star in STAY for director Marc Forster (MONSTER'S BALL) and New Regency. It's about a therapist at an Ivy League school who tries to prevent one of his students from committing suicide. David Benioff (TROY) wrote the script.

* Bill Murray will voice the title role in GARFIELD, based on the Jim Davis comic strip, for Twentieth Century Fox and director Peter Hewitt. Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt also star. Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (TOY STORY) wrote the script.

* Michael Sheen (THE FOUR FEATHERS) joins Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore and Parker Posey in New Line Cinema and Intermedia Films' THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION. Peter Howitt directs.

* Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of director Ron Howard, will replace Kirsten Dunst in M. Night Shyamalan's THE WOODS for Disney. Dunst will now star in Cameron Crowe's ELIZABETHTOWN.

* Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson will star in the British pic A WAY THROUGH THE WOODS for director Julian Fellowes and Celador Prods. The project is loosely based on Nigel Balchin's novel of the same name, which Fellowes also adapted, about a married couple whose lives are complicated when a third party enters the picture.

* John Travolta is in talks to reprise his role of Chili Palmer in BE COOL, the followup to GET SHORTY, for MGM and Jersey Films. The story begins after Palmer hatches a hit film and then a bomb. He then becomes the promoter of a struggling singer who is being pursued by the Russian mafia. Peter Steinfeld scripted.

* Matthew Goode will co-star as the love interest of Mandy Moore in the untitled Alcon Entertainment First Daughter project. Andy Cadiff directs.

* Jim Caviezel will star opposite Robin Williams in the sci-fi thriller FINAL CUT for writer/director Omar Naim and Lions Gate Films. Shooting begins June 29. It's set in a world where implanted microchips can record all moments of an individual's life. The chips are removed upon death so the images can be edited into a kind of highlight reel for loved ones who want to remember the deceased. Caviezel plays the leader of the organization that opposes this technology's development.

* Mo'Nique and Sommore (QUEENS OF COMEDY) are in talks to join MGM's urban comedy SOUL PLANE. Godfrey Danchimah is in talks to join as well.

* Poppy Montgomery ("Without a Trace") joins the cast of the indie romantic comedy 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER for writer/director Jordan Hawley. Pul Schneider, Jennifer Westfeldt, Tori Spelling and Fred Willard also star.

* Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, Robbie Williams, Diana Krall and Vivian Green will appear in MGM's JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS, the Cole Porter biopic directed by Irwin Winkler and starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. The musicians are also making small appearances in the film, which began shooting May 5 in London. Krall will sing the film's title song as well as "I Get a Kick Out of You." Costello will perform "Let's Misbehave" while Morissette will sing and dance to "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love." Crow will sing "Begin the Beguine" and Williams will do "It's De-Lovely." Green will sing "Love for Sale." Jay Cocks wrote the script.

* Mos Def joins Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Eve, Benjamin Bratt, David Alan Grier and Michael Shannon in the drama THE WOODSMAN, based on a play by Steven Fechter, for exec producer Damon Dash and director Nicole Kassell. Dash will next produce Abel Ferrara's prequel to KING OF NEW YORK, which will start shooting in the fall.

* Milla Jovovich will star in Screen Gems' ULTRAVIOLET for writer/director Kurt Wimmer (EQUILIBRIUM) about a tough woman who finds herself the protector of a 9-year-old boy targeted for death. Backdrop is a civil war in the late 21st century between humans and a subculture turned into vampires. She's a vamp.


* David Picker has written MOTHERLAND, based on the memoir by Fern Schumer Chapman about visiting the German town her mother fled during World War II and will co-write with Sharon Jetton BARBEEQ. Picker is also producing a full plate of projects, including WINTER'S TALE, an adaptation of Mark Helprin's New York novel, with an eye for Ben Stiller to direct; UNDAUNTED COURAGE, based on Stephen Ambrose's biography of Lewis and Clark, for National Geographic Films; SQUEEZE PLAY, based on a novel by Sandy Koufax biographer Jane Leavy.

* Curtis Hanson is in final talks to develop and direct Columbia's feature adaptation of Michael Faber's novel THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE for producer Laura Ziskin. Set in London during the 1860s, the story centers on a young prostitute named Sugar. Her yearning for a better life begins to become a reality when she finds herself the secret mistress of a member of a powerful London family.

* New Line picked up the pitch MONEY GAME and tapped Jamal Joseph to write the script. The project is based on an original idea from Kenyatta Slade and Gail Huggins, who will produce through their Carthage Entertainment banner. Raw Entertainment will also produce. The project is described as THE SEVEN SAMURAI meets THE COLOR MONEY set in the world of street basketball.

* J.C. Baldwin and Eric Anderson will develop for Columbia Pictures a comedy about an alien attack that goes awry when the invaders discover life on Earth is nothing like what they imagined. Caldera/De Fanti Entertainment will produce.

* Maverick Films picked up David McGrath and John O'Driscoll's script SOMETHING IN THE AIR about a sleepy small town that is revived when the smoke from a recently built Viagra plant begins to seep into the air and the lives of the townspeople.

* Spitfire Pictures has teamed with Vertigo Entertainment to produce ADDICTED, a remake of the Korean pic JUNGDOK, with Michael Petroni (QUEEN OF THE DAMNED) set to adapt. It's a supernatural thriller about a woman whose husband collides with his brother in a freak car accident, landing both men in comas. Complications arise when the brother wakes up believing he is his sister-in-law's husband.

* Mani Shankar (16 DECEMBER) has written and will direct/edit the sci-fi pic RUDRAKSH (DEMON) for producer Nitin Manmohan about a man with the power to take away pain from his subjects. Bipasha Basu, Sanjay Dutt, Suneil Shetty and Ishaa Koppikar star.

* 20th Century Fox grabbed Jeffrey Kahn's script THE KIDS for Barry Josephson to produce. It's a comedy about a divorced woman who brings home a new man, but her three kids collectively make a decision that they won't accept him into their lives. They succeed in driving him away but soon realize that he was the right person for their mother and must try to bring him back.

* Buena Vista has picked up the romantic comedy script MADE IN ITALY from writer Julie Sherman for Storyline to produce. Based on the phenomeon of male bachelors still living at home in their 30s and 40s, with mothers still attending to their washing, cleaning and cooking, the story follows a thoroughly modern businesswoman who falls for a seemingly perfect Italian man while abroad on business. Their relationship is complicated when she learns the extent to which his mother in still involved in his life.

* Thomas Carter (SAVE THE LAST DANCE) is in talks to direct Paramount's BACK IN THE DAY for MTV Films and Tollin/Robbins Prods. It's about Coach Ken Carter who made national news in 1999 when he benched his entire undefeated basketball team for poor academic performance. He forfeited two league games and made the gym off-limits until students raised their grades, a move that drew praise and criticism from parents and school officials.

* French director Fabien Onteniente is readying PEOPLE, the sequel to the French comedy JET SET. Production begins in the fall.

* Kate Robin will adapt Nancy Jo Sales' THE BABY DINNER for Working Title Films. Sales' story appeared as a New York magazine cover story in 1999 and centers on her decision -- as she approached the age of 35 -- to become pregnant by first inviting a group of old boyfriends to a dinner party and then selecting one of them.

* Dan Klores and Ron Berger will make THE WINNER, a documentary about boxer Emile Griffith, who famously beat Benny "The Kid" Paret to death in a title bout broadcast by ABC in 1962.

* Hyde Park Entertainment picked up Richard Outten's action/adventure pitch THE HIDDEN KINGDOM about a Hong Kong-born hero who finds stolen cultural treasures and returns them to their rightful owners. When his father steals a relic, he must embark upon a quest to recover the artifact and travel across India in search of the keys that lead to the mythical kingdom of Shambhala.

* Revolution Studios optioned Tim Farrington's novel THE MONK DOWNSTAIRS for Julia Roberts' Red Om Films to produce. Ron Nyswane (PHILADELPHIA) is adapting the romantic dramedy script about a single mother tired of the dating world who rents an apartment in her house to a man who has spent the last 20 years in a monastery.

* Franziska Buche will direct the sequel to the children's pic BIBI BLOCKSBERG for FFA and Bavaria.


* DreamWorks and Montecito Picture Co. are moving ahead with plans for a sequel to OLD SCHOOL, starring Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn.

* Paramount Pictures has optioned Avril Lavigne's hit song "Sk8er Boi" and has tapped David Zabel to adapt its words into a feature film to be produced by MTV Films and Alphaville. The song is about a teen who secretly likes a skater boy who adores her, but rejects him because her friends didn't approve of him. He later becomes a famous rock star and she is left with regrets.

* Warner Bros. has purchased the rights to A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, James Frey's memoir about his battle to beat drugs and alcohol. Plan B will produce the project, which will be adapted by Frey, with John Wells. The book begins as Frey finds himself aboard a Chicago-bound plane, missing four teeth and with a hole in his face, unable to remember how he ended up that way. Strung out on booze and crack at age 23, and wanted by authorities in three states, he winds up in a drug treatment facility in Minnesota.


(NOT from the trades)

* The drama MY SCORPION SOUL, set to star Gillian Anderson, Peter O'Toole, Rupert Everett and Geraldine James, written and directed by Marcus Reichert, is in prepreduction. The project is set to film in England and Spain.

* The 2nd Annual Lebowski Fest will be held on July 19th, 2003 at the AMF Rose Bowl in Louisville, Kentucky. Jeff 'The Dude' Dowd, who inspired the Coen Brothers to create the character of The Dude, will be hanging out, drinking White Russians, and promoting his autobiography "Classic Tales and Rebel Rants from The Dude." A full-length documentary is going to be made about Lebowski Fest. Visit for more.

* Melanie Lynskey has apparently landed the role of Amber in a new film called SEVEN TEN SPLIT, written by Jason Brubaker.

* Go to to find out more about 12 featured extra roles in HEART OF THE BEHOLDER to be given away.

* South Florida's Horror, Sci fi, Rock n Roll, Toy and Film Convention Screamfest 2003 will take place November 8-9, 2003. Visit for more.

* Producer Curt Johnson is in talks with Donal Logue to play John Mark Byers, Nick Stahl to portray Jason Baldwin, Ethan Hawke as lead prosecutor John Fogleman and Doug Hutcheson to play Brent Davis in WEST MEMPHIS THREE. Alex Steyermark will direct. The movie is shooting entirely in Arkansas, though Johnson is putting this entire film together in Texas. Additionally, Johnson is also adding his name to an Off-Broadway show that will be about the WM3 case that's being put together by Alan Cummings' production company.

* The Telluride IndieFest 2003 has extended their "Call For Entries." To enter their Year 2003 event, please go to:

* Kelly Brook is the hot favorite to topline SEMPRE OCCULTUS, the female James Bond-style project that once had Geri Halliwell attached. UK Writer/producer Ben Trebilcook has set this project up. Roger Moore is being hunted to play 'C', the Director General of MI6 and Jason Statham, Kelly's real life beau, as a corrupt SAS Commando.

* Colin Farrel is to replace Hugh Grant in the remake of Blake Edwards' 10. Taking the Dudley Moore role. Kristianna Loken is the hot favorite to play the Bo Derek role.

Until next week...

Elston Gunn

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