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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Father Geek here with an over flowing with timely info edition of Elston's regular weekly review of the news worthy events from the world of Hollywoodland last week, soooooo let's get on to it without delay...




* Elisha Cuthbert joins Chad Michael Murray in Dark Castle Entertainment's HOUSE OF WAX for Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures and director Jaume Collet-Serra.

* Kevin James is in talks to take a lead role in the Will Smith comedy LAST FIRST KISS for director Andy Tennant and Columbia Pictures. Eva Mendes also stars.

* Anthony Hopkins will star as Ernest Hemingway, opposite Meg Ryan, in PAPA for director Adrian Noble and Hanway Films. Set in Havana in 1959, it's the story of a young journalist searching for a father and family against the backdrop of the Cuban revolution, and how he finds his own "papa" in the drunken, gun-toting Hemingway. Denne Bart Petitclerc wrote the script, drawing on his own encounters with Hemingway in the same period.

* Isla Fisher (I HEART HUCKABEE'S) has been cast in New Line's WEDDING CRASHERS for director David Dobkin.

* Emmanuelle Chriqui (WRONG TURN) is starring in ADAM AND EVE for director Jeff Kanew. The film tells the story of the ups and down of a relationship between Adam and Eve and how they cope with Eve's decision to remain a virgin.

* Kat Dennings and Dana David will star opposite Hilary Duff in New Line's HEART OF SUMMER for director Sean McNamara.

* Karyme Lozano will star in DESNUDOS for director/producer Enrique Gomez Badillo for Televisa Films. She'll play an artist who willingly submits to her husband's abuse for fear of being alone.

* Amy Irving has been cast opposite Robert De Niro in 20th Century Fox's HIDE AND SEEK for director John Polson. She will play De Niro's suicidal wife.

* Alan Dale is joining the cast of New Line's AFTER THE SUNSET for helmer Brett Ratner. He will play the security chief in charge of guarding the Napoleon Diamond, a jewel that Pierce Brosnan's character is trying to steal.

* Arielle Kebbel ("Gilmore Girls") joins the cast of MGM's BE COOL for director F. Gary Gray.

* KaDee Strickland has been cast in Sony's THE GRUDGE for director Takashi Shimizu. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jason Behr star.

* Ken Watanabe (THE LAST SAMURAI) will play the villain Ra's Al Ghul in BATMAN BEGINS for Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan.

* John Cusack, Monica Bellucci and Billy Bob Thornton will star in Focus Features' ICE HARVEST for director Harold Ramis and Bona Fide Prods. It's a comedic thriller set in a snowbound town on Christmas Eve that has Cusack playing a not-so-bright lawyer who is about to embezzle money from his mob superiors. Bellucci plays an owner of a strip bar who is in cahoots with Thornton's character, who is using the lawyer to swindle the mob and plans to double-cross him.

* Delta Goodrem will star in the Australian comedy HATING ALISON ASHLEY, based on Robin Klein's bestseller, about the trials and tribulations of being a teenager, peer rivalry and discovering the value of friendship.

* Erica Leerhsen will star opposite Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell in the indie CRAZY IN LOVE (formerly known as MOZART AND THE WHALE) for director Petter Naess and Millennium Films. Ron Bass wrote the project about a young couple who have Asperger's syndrome, a kind of autism. Leerhsen will play a close friend to the couple who also is afflicted with the syndrome.

* Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman will return for a sequel to UNDERWORLD, written by Danny McBride, for director Len Wiseman, Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment.

* Ryan Gosling, Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt and Franka Potente will play the closest confidantes of Benecio Del Toro's Che Guevara in CHE for writer/director Terrence Malick.

* Kate Winslet is set to play the lead in Liv Ullmann's upcoming film adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen play A DOLL'S HOUSE. John Cusack, Stellan Skarsgard and Tim Roth also star. Production will begin in January.

* Tom Green will star in director Bob Spiers' comedy BOB THE BUTLER about an American traveling to the United Kingdom to train as a butler before traveling back to the States to work. Jane Walker Wood and Steven Manners wrote the script. It's described as being in the vein of a British MRS. DOUBTFIRE

* Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep will star in PRIME for writer/director Ben Younger (BOILER ROOM) about a successful thirtysomething woman who inadvertently falls for the twentysomething son of her therapist. Team Todd produces for Universal/Focus.

* Cheech Marin, Jake Busey and M. Emmet Walsh have joined the cast of Revolution's SKIPPING CHRISTMAS, starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd, for director Joe Roth. Production begins next month. Chris Columbus penned the adaptation of John Grisham's novel.

* Rob Schneider will star in DEUCE BIGALOW: EUROPEAN GIGOLO for Happy Madison and Sony Pictures. Eddie Griffin is expected to reprise his role from the first movie as well. T.J. Schneider wrote the script with David Garrett, Jason Ward and Josh Lieb. Production begins later this year.

* Charlize Theron is in talks to star in AEON FLUX, a big-screen adaptation of the MTV series created by Peter Chung, for Paramount, Valhalla Prods., Lakeshore and director Karyn Kusama. Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay wrote the project about a futuristic assassin known for her extreme style, cool attitude and tight clothes.

* Sarah Thompson (MALIBU'S MOST WANTED) will star in TAMARA, written by Jeffrey Reddick, for director David Sporn, City Lights Pictures and Armada Pictures. Shooting is skedded to begin in May. The supernatural thriller centers on an unpopular high school girl who, after her tragic death due to a vicious prank, is reborn as a seductive, mind-controlling teen vixen hell-bent on revenge.

* Diane Lane will star in FIERCE PEOPLE, scripted by Dirk Wittenborn, for director Griffin Dunne and Lions Gate Entertainment. Lane stars as a massage therapist who dreams of leaving New York City and joining her son's father, a renowned anthropologist, who is studying a primitive South American tribe called Yanomamo or "Fierce People." Donald Sutherland is in final negotiations to play the anthropologist.

* Hugh Jackman is likely to star in Darren Aronofsky's sci-fi pic THE FOUNTAIN, which is being resurrected by Warner Bros./New Regency, instead of Brad Pitt.

* Sean Penn will star opposite Javier Bardem and Robin Wright Penn in THE LAST FACE for TF1 Intl. and writer/director Erin Dignam. It's about two humanitarian doctors who fall in love while working in war-torn Africa. Production in San Francisco and South Africa will begin late spring.

* Julianne Moore will star in SAVAGE GRACE for director Tom Kalin (SWOON) and Killer Films. Adapted by Howard A. Rodman from the book by Natalie Robins and Steven M.L. Aronson, the project tells the story of the Baekeland family -- the inventors of Bakelite -- and their descent into sexual obsession and murder. Moore will play Barbara Daly, an underprivileged woman who marries into the Baekeland clan and whose attraction to the glamour and decadence of the upper class leads to a life of recklessness, madness and matricide.


* Ira Sachs (THE DELTA) will shoot FORTY SHADES OF BLUE, a drama set in the music world of Memphis, Tenn., for exec producer Sydney Pollack, Charlie Guidance Prods., High Line Prods., Tiny Dancer Films and Flux Films. Co-written by Sachs and Michael Rohatyn, the story of a Russian woman living with a legendary soul producer and her affair with his estranged son stars Rip Torn alongside Dina Korzun, Darren Burrows and Paprika Steen. R&B singer J. Blackfoot, Memphis music producer Jim Dickinson and singer Sid Selvidge also appear.

* Adam Shankman is set to direct Bill Kelly's thriller PREMONITION for Hyde Park Entertainment. The project revolves around a Midwest housewife whose husband dies in a car crash -- only to appear alive the next day.

* Todd Kessler will write and direct Miramax's KEITH, an adaptation of a short story penned by Ron Carlson. Originally adapted by David Zabel, the project centers on the battle between a 17-year-old girl who's on top of the world and the guy who's determined to take her down.

* Peter Berg is set to produce and direct HIP-HOP COPS for Radar Pictures. Eric Eason wrote the script set inside the highly secretive division of the New York Police Dept. that exclusively investigates hip-hop and rap-related crime.

* George Miller is in talks to direct two Warner Bros. Pictures projects that Michael Seitzman has been tapped to write. The first is THE BRAVE ONE, described as DEATH WISH with a female protagonist. The second project is THE SPARROW, an adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Mary Doria Russell.

* Shane Black will make his feature directing debut on his script KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG, an action comedy to star Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan, for Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver. Downey plays a thief posing as an actor who teams up with a tough-guy private eye and a frustrated actress. They stumble upon a murder.

* David Ranes is writing the action/drama BRIMSTONE, based on a true story, which follows an American fighter pilot shot down over Nazi-occupied France and rescued by the French Resistance. Ranes will partner with producer Gerald Molen in his WhiteLight Entertainment.

* Charles Leavitt has been hired to rewrite OKVANGO for Warner Bros. Pictures. The script will follow a poor African farmer who gets caught up in the conflict between an American smuggler and the syndicate that controls local diamond mining.

* Zhang Yang will direct Fortissimo Films' SUNFLOWER, set against the backdrop of three decades of recent Chinese history. Shooting begins mid-March in locations throughout Beijing.

* Roger Kumble is in negotiations to direct the comedy JUST FRIENDS for New Line. Chris Bender and JC Spink are producing. The project tells the story of a likable everyman who is rejected by his true love, who says she wants to be just friends. Moving across the country, he transforms himself into a selfish womanizer but then returns unexpectedly to his past persona when he reconnects with the girl who broke his heart.

* Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy" creator) will co-write and direct the comedy FAMILY REUNION for Spyglass Entertainment. The broad comedy, being co-scripted by Mike Barker and Matthew Weitzman, centers on a commonplace nightmare scenario -- going home every five years to face one's dysfunctional family.

* Chuck Russell has committed to direct THORNWOOD CIRCLE, a sexually charged supernatural thriller that Richard Jefferies (COLD CREEK MANOR) is writing. Mission Entertainment is producing the pic. The story, set in Northern California, centers on a young woman visited by a series of erotic dreams that are at first a welcome distraction but soon take a dangerous turn.

* Ridley Scott will direct the adaptation of Peter Mayle's upcoming novel, A GOOD YEAR, for Fox 2000 and has Marc Klein (SERENDIPITY) to pen the script. It's the story of a failing London banker who moves to Provence after inheriting a vineyard, only to encounter a beautiful Californian who has her own claim on the estate.

* Robert Rodriguez is set to direct SIN CITY, an adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic noir crime novel series, for Dimension Films. Set in Sin City, the film interconnects storylines that involve the unsavory inhabitants of the town. Rodriguez has already shot the film's opening with Josh Hartnett and Marley Shelton, and he's now casting the remaining roles as the rest of the film gets under way this month. Rodriguez has also offered Miller to be his co-director.

* New Line picked up Harris Wilkinson's horror pitch BONE CANYON about a group of college students who find themselves being hunted by supernatural forces after their plane crashes in a desolate mountain town.

* Fortissimo Films has greenlighted two new projects to add to its slate, including MR. AVERAGE and INVISIBLE WAVES. Directed by Pierre-Paul Renders (THOMAS IN LOVE), AVERAGE follows a man so average that a marketing company -- testing products for a huge conglomerate -- secretly seeks to exploit him. Pen-ek Ratanaruang (LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE) will helm WAVES from a script being written by Thai novelist Praba Yoon.

* Nick Hamm (upcoming GODSEND) will direct THREE, a contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov's play THREE SISTERS, for his production company Greenroom, Arclight Films, Movision and Spice Factory.

* Canyonlight Entertainment and Entertainment Business Group have acquired feature film rights to Bruce Wilkinson's bestselling book THE PRAYER OF JABEZ with Barry Morrow (RAIN MAN) set to write the script. The project will tell the story of a man who confronts a spectacular life-threatening experience and of a mystical stranger who invites him on a journey that changes his life.

* Bill Paxton will direct THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED, based on the bestselling book, for Disney. It's the true story of the legendary 1913 U.S. Open, in which 20-year-old Ouimet shocked the golf world by defeating British champion Harry Vardon.

* Producer Catherine Gourdier's Ladyhawke Ventures has picked up the film rights to novel THE TOWN THAT FORGOT HOW TO BREATHE by Kenneth J. Harvey for Gourdier to adapt. Newfoundland-set ghost story concerns a burg where residents come down with a mysterious illness that has even the military alarmed.

* New Line has purchased David Jung and Steve Dandois' action thriller INFERNO for Karz Entertainment to produce. Story follows a betrayed narcotics officer who resurrects himself as a gang lord to exact revenge.

* Producer Rudy Langlais has purchased feature rights to the book and screenplay MILES AND ME by Miles Davis fan-biographer and former California poet laureate Quincy Troupe. Script tells the story of the relationship between Troupe and Davis while exploring the life of the legendary jazzman.

* Sheldon Turner will write the Johnny Knoxville vehicle HOT DOG VENDOR for Paramount Pictures. The comedy will center initially on the rivalry between a pair of hot dog vendors in downtown Los Angeles, with Knoxville portraying an ex-con forced into the business by his parole officer. The duo eventually ally to take on a common enemy, the equivalent of the New York Yankees of the hot dog vending world.


* Renny Harlin's reshoot of EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING wrapped after 13 weeks on Rome's Cinecitta Studios backlot. Reportedly, there is not a single frame of the footage shot by Paul Schrader to be included in the pic. While Schrader's footage is thought to have been considered too tame, new footage is said to generously feature revolving eyeballs, spinning heads and loads of projectile vomit.

* Wolfgang Petersen's Radiant Pictures and producer Mike Fleiss are developing a remake of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE for Warner Bros. Pictures.

* Producer John Goldwyn is teaming up with Lorne Michaels on a trio of comedy projects including: a blind script deal with Tina Fey (upcoming MEAN GIRLS) for her next project; SEBASTIAN KNIGHT, being penned by Steve Koren, centers around a woman addicted to self-help who has a one-night stand with a guy only to find out he is a CIA agent who hooked up with her to get himself out of a jam; and MALL COPS, scripted by Rich Talarico, in which a pair of security guards defend a shopping mall against a group of burglars.

* The Johnny Depp starrer THE LIBERTINE has been refinanced and will start shooting March 3. Producers Russ Smith and John Malkovich of Mr. Mudd have struck a deal with Isle of Man Film to replace the equity investment they were due to receive from First Choice, one of the funds cut by the British government.

* Todd Phillips has dropped out of writing/directing DreamWorks' sequel to OLD SCHOOL.

* New Line Cinema has acquired rights to develop bestselling German children's author Cornelia Funke's novel INKHEART as a potential kids fantasy franchise. It's an adventure story about a young girl whose father has the power to bring characters from books to life by reading those books aloud. When a power-hungry villain from a rare children's fable kidnaps the man, his daughter bands with a group of friends both real and imagined to set things right.

* Scott Rudin has purchased the life rights of the trio of filmmakers who constructed the ultimate tribute movie, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTATION. The producer obtained the rights from Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb. While adolescents in Mississippi, the trio launched a shot-by-shot remake of RAIDERS in Zala's backyard while on summer vacation in 1982 and finished seven years later.

* Marvel Entertainment and Lions Gate Entertainment are gearing up to bring two new superhero characters to the bigscreen: Iron Fist and Black Widow. The two companies are also planning a sequel to the upcoming action pic THE PUNISHER.

* Miramax Films and Mirage Enterprises along with producer Amy J. Moore will adapt a feature from Alexander McCall Smith's bestselling series about a female gumshoe in Botswana, THE NO. 1 DETECTIVE AGENCY.

* Stonelock Pictures has secured financing to produce films including MATA HARI, to shoot in July; and GILGAMESH, starring Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Robert Davi, Valentina Cervi, Costas Mandylor and Peter Recknell.

* Universal Pictures has acquired remake rights to the South Korean psychological thriller OLD BOY from Cineclick Asia. Original pic, directed by Park Chan-wook, follows a man who has been kidnapped by unknown captors and held in a room for 15 years. On the anniversary of his capture, he is put to sleep and wakes up in the middle of a city. Plot centers on his search to find out who kidnapped him and why.

Until next week...

Elston Gunn

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