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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Father Geek here with the latest from Elston and Tinseltown. As always he's got all the confirmed news from last week all put together in one easy to find spot...




* Gabriel Byrne and Brian Dennehy have joined the cast of the ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 remake for Focus Features and director Jean-Francois Richet. Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne star.

* Heath Ledger will star in Lasse Hallstrom's CASANOVA, a romantic comedy about the legendary Casanova and his pursuit of the one woman in Venice who doesn't fall prey to his charm, for Disney.

* Regina King and Enrique Murciano ("Without a Trace") are in final talks to star opposite Sandra Bullock in MISS CONGENIALITY 2 for Warner Bros., Village Roadshow, Castle Rock and director John Pasquin.

* Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker have agreed to star in STRANGERS WITH CANDY, based on the Comedy Central series which was a dark satire of moralistic afterschool specials. It centered on Jerri, a frumpy and unattractive outcast who returned to high school after 30 years of hard living on the streets and in prison. However, the rough times don't end at school as, while trying to shed her immoral past, she's forced to mix and mingle with kids who are prettier, hipper and more popular than she is. Creators Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert are writing the script.

* Chris Tucker is in talks to return to MONEY TALKS 2 and RUSH HOUR 3, both for New Line.

* Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Redman, John Waters and Billy Boyd have signed to star in SEED OF CHUCKY for writer/director Don Mancini.

* Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua are in negotiations to reunite on TRU BLU, a biopic of Harlem heroin kingpin Frank Lucas, for Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures. Steven Zaillian wrote the screenplay.

* Dylan McDermott, Cary Elwes and John Heard join the cast of writer/director David Burke's indie drama EDISON starring Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Justin Timberlake, LL Cool J and Piper Perabo.

* Olympia Dukakis, Thomas McCarthy, Judy Greer, Will Arnett, Jim Gaffigan and Naseeruddin Shah have joined Edie Falco, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Tony Shalhoub in Serenade Films/Sly Dog Films' digital feature THE GREAT NEW WONDERFUL for director Danny Leiner. Penned by playwright Sam Catlin, the dark comedy weaves five stories against the backdrop of an anxious and uncertain post-Sept. 11 New York.

* Shane West and Lukas Haas join Dominique Swain, Thora Birch, Jena Malone, Marla Sokoloff and Anna Faris in VINYL for writer/director Richard Zelniker. The pic follows the story of a group of women behind a male rock band that is on the verge of breakout success.

* Thomas Kretschmann is set to star with Sarah Wayne Callies and Matthew Settle in the big-screen adaptation of James Redfield's THE CELESTINE PROPHECY. Hector Elizondo, Jurgen Prochnow and Joaquim de Almeida also star.

* Mary-Louise Parker and Christopher Walken have signed on to star with James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Mandy Moore and Kate Winslet in United Artists' musical comedy ROMANCE AND CIGARETTES for writer/director John Turturro and GreeneStreet Films. The story follows a cheating blue-collar husband who is forced to choose between his sexy mistress and his put-upon wife. According to the film's producers, the film is "punctuated by lip-synched performances of popular songs" by artists including Irving Berlin, Nick Cave, Connie Francis, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield and Bruce Springsteen.

* Djimon Hounsou, Alicia Silverstone and thirteen-year-old Little JJ ("The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "Coming to the Stage") join the cast of BEAUTY SHOP, starring Queen Latifah starrer. Bille Woodruff will direct from a script by Norman Vance.

* Robert Rodriguez is reportedly negotiating with Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy, Kate Bosworth, Jaime King, Johnny Depp, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Michael Douglas, Josh Hartnett, Marley Shelton, Maria Bello and Benicio Del Toro for roles in SIN CITY, an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel series. Some of the actors have already signed on for parts in the pic, while others are only in discussions or have just received offers to join the cast. Set to start shooting shortly, the movie will be composed of three intertwining vignettes revolving around a dark set of characters that call the fictional corrupt town home. Also, Quentin Tarantino may be directing part of the film.

* Jake Gyllenhaal is in talks to star in THE GREEN HORNET for Miramax and director Kevin Smith. Gyllenhaal would play the crime-fighting superhero who also doubles as Daily Sentinel publisher Britt Reid.

* Connie Nielsen has been set to replace Monica Bellucci (who had to bow out due to pregnancy) as the female lead opposite John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton in THE ICE HARVEST for director Harold Ramis.

* Brad Pitt may play Jesse James in a feature based on the Robert Hansen novel THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD for Warner Bros., Plan B, Scott Free and writer/director Andrew Dominik (CHOPPER).

* Ali Larter will play the title role in MARIGOLD: AN ADVENTURE IN INDIA, a musical comedy about an American actress who goes to India and gets caught up in the eccentric world of Bollywood. Shooting will begin in northern India and London in June. Larter will star opposite Salman Khan (TERE NAAM), who plays her Bollywood dance instructor.

* Jared Padalecki joins Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray and Paris Hilton in HOUSE OF WAX for helmer Jaume Collet-Serra and Dark Castle.

* Brad Garrett ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and Max Thieriot (CATCH THAT KID) join Vin Diesel in THE PACIFIER for director Adam Shankman, Disney and Spyglass Entertainment. Shooting is scheduled to start in Vancouver in mid-April. It's about an undercover agent hired to protect a government scientist and his family.

* Elijah Wood is set to star in Warner Independent Pictures' EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED for director Liev Schreiber. Based on Jonathan Safran Foer's best-selling novel and adapted by Schreiber, the project tells the story of a young American Jewish man and his quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather in a small Ukrainian town that was wiped off the map by the Nazis.

* Kevin Kline is in talks to play Inspector Dreyfus, opposite Steve Martin's Inspector Clouseau in THE PINK PANTHER for MGM and director Shawn Levy. Shooting starts in May in New York, followed by Paris. Beyonce and Jean Reno also star.

* Scarlett Johansson is attached to star in NAPOLEON AND BETSY, written by Rebecca B. Kennedy, for Lions Gate about the friendship between Napoleon Bonaparte and a young British girl. The project tells the story of the emperor's final years, as seen through the girl's eyes. Initially defiant and planning to escape, Bonaparte tries to enlist her in his fantasy to regrasp power, but eventually becomes resigned to his fate.


* Damon Dash is directing Lions Gate's STATE PROPERTY II, a sequel to the 2002 feature which he produced. Adam Moreno wrote the script about three gangsters fighting to control the streets of Philadelphia.

* New Line has picked up SENIOR CLASS, a pitch by Chris Parrish for Cosmic Entertainment and Workshed to produce. It tells the story of an older man who moves into an upscale retirement community only to find out that he doesn't fit in because of high school-like rivalries that play out between popular and unpopular crowds.

* Kevin Connolly (WHATEVER WE DO short) will direct GARDENER OF EDEN for Appian Way and Initial Entertainment. Adam "Tex" Davis wrote the dark script about a loser who receives a hero's reception when he inadvertently saves a person's life. This inspires him to create more would-be disasters so he can save the day again and receive more acclaim.

* Writers Paul Benson and Matt Sullivan have sold an untitled spoof of martial arts films to Dream Entertainment.

* Paul McGuigan (THE RECKONING) will direct FORTUNE'S FOOLS for Working Title and Universal. It's about five officers who steal a winning lottery ticket from a drug dealer.

* Working Title Films snapped up David Logan's spec script THE RIP about a thief who is hired to steal the diamonds from the Millenium Dome but uses the initial theft as a diversion for a score that's twice as big.

* Gustin Nash will write and direct YOUTH IN REVOLT, an adaptation of the C.D. Payne novel, for Lions Gate and producer David Permut. Book is the tale of a precocious 14-year-old high school student who gets through the bitter breakup of his parents by concentrating on a quest to lose his virginity.

* Twentieth Century Fox and Scott Free have optioned the Kathleen Tessaro novel ELEGANCE with Christopher Monger set to adapt the tale of a bored woman who reinvents herself.

* Malcolm Lee (UNDERCOVER BROTHER) is in talks to direct ROLL BOUNCE for Fox 2000 and State Street Pictures. Penned by Norman Vance Jr., the project is described as a coming-of-age comedy set against the backdrop of the roller-skating scene of the early '70s.

* Gurinder Chadha (BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM) is attached to direct NINE WIVES, New Line's romantic comedy about a commitment-phobic guy who breaks up with his longtime girlfriend and begins to wake up every morning with a different wife.

* Offspring Entertainment picked up THE FIANCEE, written by Jennifer Robinson and Dyanne Stemple, about a woman who breaks off her engagement to the seemingly perfect guy. She decides the only way to get rid of him is for her to find him a new girlfriend, but in the course of doing that, she falls back in love with the man.

* Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment grabbed THE EXORCISM OF ANNELIESE MICHEL, a horror thriller from writers Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman. Derrickson also is attached to direct. A true story, the case of Michel is well known among those who study exorcisms. In 1976, the Catholic Church officially recognized the demonic possession of an 18-year-old German college freshman. During her exorcism, the young woman died, and a priest stood trial for causing her death.

* Tina Chism sold her pitch LIGHTS OUT to Paramount for Lynda Obst to produce. The romantic comedy is set in New York and centers on a woman who is prepping for what could be the greatest blind date of her life. However, the Big Apple falls under a citywide blackout, and she and her date are forced to search for each other under impossible conditions.

* Universal Pictures has picked up 32 AND SINGLE, a romantic comedy from writer Ken Rance that is being developed as a vehicle for Gabrielle Union. It's about a New York businesswoman on the corporate fast track who has to earn her stripes by going to New Ulm, Minn., to oversee the closing of a factory.

* Humanoids Inc., has set up two feature projects that the company will produce: METAL, will be written by Jerrold Brown and Paul Alexander, and SANCTUM with Michael Gillvary writing the adaptation.

* Sam Harper will write the second installment of CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN for 20th Century Fox. Harper is also rewriting THE JETSONS and sold OVERPARENTING for producer/director Adam Shankman about the anxious parents of a first grader who spend Christmas break with their son's new school friend and his parents.

* Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise will direct and star in, respectively, H.G Wells' THE WAR OF THE WORLDS for C/W Prods. and DreamWorks. David Koepp will rewrite a Josh Friedman-penned first-draft script.

* Room 9 Entertainment purchased the teen comedy QUEEN LARA by Nicholas Thurkettle. Pic, based on Shakespeare's KING LEAR, is set to shoot this summer.

* Ali LeRoi will write the golfing comedy THE CLUB for Paramount. It centers on the fictional George Washington Carver Country Club in Compton. The facility's owner attempts to solve its financial problems by luring a pro golf event, sparking a fight between his son and a local hustler.

* Disney has picked up SOUTH OF THE BORDER, a pitch by Jeff Bushell, for First Entertainment to produce. A live-action movie in which the animals will talk, the story chronicles the adventures of Mitzi, a pampered Beverly Hills Chihuahua accustomed to riding in a purse. While on a spa vacation in Mexico with her owner, she gets lost and is forced to find her way back home.

* Red Wagon Entertainment bought CAMP ROCKAWAY, a pitch by Leigh Dunlap (A CINDERELLA STORY) for Columbia Pictures. Story is based on an article in the Sunday Telegraph magazine called "Girls Allowed," by Alexandra Jacobs. The pic will focus on two girls on opposite ends of the music spectrum (one likes Britney Spears; the other digs the White Stripes) who meet at a rock 'n' roll summer camp. At parents' weekend the girls realize their single parents have been secretly dating and set out to break them up.

* Christopher McQuarrie will write an untitled military action-adventure for Paramount/Alphaville. The film, set in the world of elite combat units, will center on the fate of a special forces team assigned to test the security of the most sensitive government and military installations. Due to overzealous execution of orders, they are disbanded and the individual members expelled from the military; a year later, they are asked to reassemble to stop the terrorist activities of a group that has adopted their tactics and techniques.

* DreamWorks has purchased the script RED EYE by Carl Ellsworth about a woman held captive on an airplane. Her captor threatens to kill her father unless she helps him arrange the assassination of a wealthy businessman.

* Eric Abrams and Matthew Berry sold their pitch THE USER to Paramount for Guy Walks Into a Bar and Penn Station to produce. Story centers on a prospective groom who unwittingly becomes the subject of an angry female rock anthem.


* DreamWorks has pushed back the opening of the Jack Black laffer "Envy" from April 2 to April 30.

* Exodus Film Group is financing IGOR, a CGI project about Dr. Frankenstein's lab assistant told from the hunchback's perspective; and 55 HOLLY STAR, a Capra-esque tale of a down-on-his-luck executive who, rather than getting what he wants, gets what he needs.

* Columbia Pictures and Red Wagon optioned the screen rights to SAMMY'S HILL, a first novel by Kristin Gore, daughter of the former U.S. vice president Al Gore. The novel chronicles the life of a young woman who tries to balance a job as a congressional aide on Capitol Hill with the desire to find the right guy.

* Prime Universe Prods. has signed a two-year first-look deal with comicbook company Devil's Due Publishingn where the first project will be the upcoming horror pic HACK/SLASH.

* Sony Pictures Classics lost its ratings board appeal against the NC-17 tag slapped on YOUNG ADAM, starring Ewan McGregor.


(NOT from the trades)

* Screenwriting Workshop: "Process to Product" - Brian Herskowitz Screenwriting Workshop "Ten Years of Teaching Excellence." An 8 week INTENSIVE course ($395) Tuesdays 7-11pm; April 13 - June 1, 2004. For more info visit

* Visit for info on the 2004 Twisted Sinema Underground Movie Festival

Until next week...

Elston Gunn

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