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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Father Geek here one more time with our regular weekly column by Elston Gunn on the confirmed news out of Hollywood last week. Soooo, if you think you might have missed some juicy bits during your busy work week just scroll on thru this week's edition of...




* Mischa Barton ("The O.C.") will star in the horror thriller HEXXX, written by Mark Gibson and John Raffo, for MGM and Apartment 3B Prods. The story revolves around the world of voodoo and is set against the backdrop of New Orleans.

* Cheryl Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") will star opposite Michael Keaton in Disney's HERBIE: FULLY LOADED for director Angela Robinson as well as BICKFORD SCHMECKLER'S COOL IDEAS, opposite Patrick Fugit, for director Scott Lew.

* Paula Patton joins HBO Films' MY LIFE IN IDLEWILD, starring OutKast's Andre 3000 and directed by Bryan Barber. In the musical, set in the Prohibition-era American South, Patton plays a rising superstar who mixes it up in a speakeasy.

* John Noble is joining Paul Walker in RUNNING SCARED for director Wayne Kramer. Noble plays Ivan Yugorsky, a Russian mob boss who enforces his law upon Walker and company when his son and a neighbor find a dirty gun used in a murder.

* Jose Pablo Cantillo has been cast opposite D.L. Hughley in the indie RIKERS for director Charles Winkler and producer Rob Cowan. He will play a juvenile inmate at Rikers Island Prison who wins a poetry slam contest with the help of a prison teacher only to have bigger battles later on.

* Wilmer Calderon joins the cast of ANNAPOLIS for director Justin Lin.

* Seymour Cassel will star in BITTERSWEET PLACE for director Alexandra Brodsky about a patriarch of a dysfunctional family who is diagnosed with cancer and finds religion, while the rest of the family go through their own crises.

* Ellen Hollman joins Paris Hilton in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S PLEDGE THIS!

* Will Wallace and Myrton Running Wolf join Colin Farrell in THE NEW WORLD for New Line and director Terrence Malick.

* Maria Conchita Alonso will star in the Venezuelan romantic comedy UNAUTHORIZED CLIFFORD with Edgar Ramirez for director Elia Schneider. Written by Schneider and Fernando Butazzoni, the pic centers on a playwright whose characters come to life in order to prevent him from scrapping them from his play.

* Paramount is in talks to bring back Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Seth Green, Mos Def and Jason Statham for the sequel to THE ITALIAN JOB for producer John Goldwyn with hopes to start shooting in late March for a November 2005 release.

* Ben Affleck, David Schwimmer, William H. Macy, Richard Kind and German director Werner Herzog will star in director Zak Penn's comic feature set around an international poker tournament for Insomnia Entertainment. Pic will shoot in February at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. Penn will present each cast member with a fully fleshed-out character and then work with them to form the basis for what will be mostly improvised scenes.

* Steve Zahn will join Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz in the comic Western BANDIDAS for 20th Century Fox and co-helmers Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg. Shooting on the feature begins next month in Mexico. Zahn is slated to play a New York police investigator sent to Mexico to track a string of bank holdups. However, he ends up being kidnapped by Hayek and Cruz, who star as bank robbers. Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen wrote the script.

* Mena Suvari will star in Tony Scott's DOMINO opposite Keira Knightley. The pic tells the real-life story of Domino Harvey, daughter of actor Laurence Harvey, who starred in the original version of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. She ditched a career as a Ford model to become a bounty hunter. Suvari will play a producer's assistant in the project, which was penned by writer/director Richard Kelly.

* Alec Baldwin and Nikki Reed (THIRTEEN) will star in MINI'S FIRST TIME for Bold Films and Trigger Street Prods. Written and to be directed by Nick Guthe, the dark comedy centers on a rebellious, unwanted child who joins an escort service where her stepfather is a client.

* Meryl Streep is in negotiations to join Sean Penn and Jude Law in ALL THE KING'S MEN, while Kate Winslet and Mark Ruffalo are in talks about the project. Steven Zaillian is set to direct for Columbia Pictures from his own adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's novel, which is based on the life of late Louisiana Gov. Huey Long.

* Geoffrey Rush is in talks to join Russell Crowe in the big-screen adaptation of Australian author Murray Bail's award winning novel EUCALYPTUS. Rush would play the Australian widower Holland, a man who plants hundreds of different eucalyptus trees on his plantation west of Sydney. When his daughter Ellen comes of age, Holland tests all potential suitors by making them correctly identify every single species. Only one man succeeds, but by then Ellen already has lost her heart to a handsome stranger played by Crowe, who has entranced her with stories not of trees but about people. Jocelyn Moorehouse directs from a script by Michelle Joyner and Moorehouse.

* Sharon Stone will star in COUGARS, a romantic comedy about a 40ish woman who falls for a 27-year-old man. Pic, scripted by Tara Miele and Kristine Skeie, will be produced by Gold Circle Films and SideStreet Entertainment.

* Justin Timberlake and Emile Hirsch are teaming to star in ALPHA DOG for director Nick Cassavetes, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and A-Mark Entertainment. Sharon Stone also stars. Production begins Oct. 25. The project is inspired by the real-life story of Jesse James Hollywood, a drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be on the FBI's most wanted list.

* Sean Hayes has signed to star in the feature comedy SIMON SAYS for Revolution Studios, Storyline Entertainment and Mosaic Media Group. Based on a pitch by scribes Jeremy Miller and Dan Cohn from an original concept by Mosaic's Eric Gold, the story will see Hayes star as Simon Christopher, winner of a prestigious national teacher of the year award. There isn't a child he can't tame until he is hired to home-school the difficult children of a Manhattan media mogul, who is later placed under house arrest.

* Catherine Keener is in talks to play novelist Harper Lee in United Artists' untitled Truman Capote feature. Samantha Morton had been in talks for the role. Philip Seymour Hoffman is set to play Capote in the film, which will be helmed by Bennett Miller from a script by Dan Futterman. Chris Cooper and Clifton Collins Jr. also star.

* Donnie Wahlberg joins the cast of Disney's Naval Academy boxing drama ANNAPOLIS, starring James Franco and Jordana Brewster, for director Justin Lin. Tyrese and Vicellous Shannon also stars.

* Vincent Cassel will star opposite Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen in DERAILED, the Miramax adaptation of the James Siegel novel to be directed by Mikael Hafstrom (EVIL).


* Gale Anne Hurd and Platinum Studios will produce the feature film ATLANTIS RISING, a political sci-fi thriller about an underwater kingdom and the surface world coming to the brink of war, with both civilizations hanging in the balance. The project, written by Scott O. Brown, is based on a Platinum graphic novel created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.

* Chris Pappas and Mike Bernier are set to write the untitled Dax Shepard and Al Shearer project at Fox Searchlight. The duo also might direct. The project is based on an idea by Shepard and Shearer, who also will star in the movie, about two guys from different racial backgrounds who come to find out that they are actually brothers who must compete against each other for an inheritance.

* McG's production company, Wonderland Sound & Vision, has teamed with writer/actor Danny Comden on the Universal Pictures pitch YOU'RE AMAZING, to be produced by Prospect Pictures.

* Southpaw Entertainment has signed deals with Kirsten Sheridan to direct AUGUST RUSH and David Nutter to helm WINDSOR ROAD. RUSH is described as a modern-day fairy tale about an orphaned musical prodigy who tries to find his parents through their shared musical gifts. ROAD is a psychological thriller about a psychiatrist whose life is unraveled by the patient he is trying to save.

* Paramount Pictures has optioned the script STARSHIP DAVE, written by Rob Greenberg and Bill Corbett, for Guy Walks Into a Bar and Deep River Prods. The comedy centers on a man who emerges in New York's Central Park unscathed from a ball of flames, which turns out to be a starship operated by aliens. On a mission to save his own planet, the alien captain goes against orders and falls in love with an Earth girl.

* Shawn Levy (CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, THE PINK PANTHER) will direct the adult comedy FATHER KNOWS LESS for New Line. Script is based on a pitch by Aline Brosh McKenna about a successful but aloof dad who is abandoned by his young, fed-up trophy wife. Left to raise his young kids on his own, he must rely on the guidance of the disaffected older offspring from his first marriage.

* Mike Nichols and Julia Roberts are in talks to develop the romantic comedy SEVEN-YEAR SWITCH for Columbia Pictures and Red Wagon. Roberts would play a woman coming up on the seventh year of a relationship. The proverbial seven-year itch takes a rather extreme turn as the woman gets to see what might have been if she had made different choices in her life.

* Paul Feig ("Freaks And Geeks" creator) will rewrite and direct STAR GIRL, based on the young adult novel by Jerry Spinelli, for Paramount/Nickelodeon. Book tells the story of 16-year-old Leo Borlock's first love -- an eccentric beauty. Peer pressure forces him to choose whether or not to stay with the crowd and shun a girl he loves.

* Dave Kajganich will script the new PET SEMATARY for Paramount and Alphaville.

* Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber (BUTTERFLY EFFECT) will rewrite and direct A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND for New Line and producer Don Murphy's Angry Films. It's the first of five mystery novels by Don Winslow, each featuring the character Neal Carey, a 23-year-old graduate student whose college education is paid for by "The Bank," an exclusive New England institution that keeps its wealthy clients happy and out of trouble. The Bank also gives him an education on how be a private investigator.

* Jon Vitti will write DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, DreamWorks' remake of Francis Veber's French comic hit LE DINER DE CONS (THE DINNER GAME) starring Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Ali G. In the original, a Paris publisher holds a weekly dinner party and challenges his friends to bring along the most pathetic guest possible. In the new version, Cohen will play a character said to possess such "extraordinary schmuckiness" that he's capable of ruining the life of anyone who spends more than a few minutes in his orbit.

* Michael Schiffer (CRIMSON TIDE) is set to write the military action thriller FIRST CLASS for producer Michael Davis and Revolution Studios. Set against the backdrop of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the movie revolves around a close-knit group of Navy first class midshipmen who discover an illegal operation under the military's radar in a nearby port-of-call. Together, they must use their training and leadership skills to put a stop to it, risking their careers and lives in the process.

* Laurence Dunmore (upcoming THE LIBERTINE) will direct A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, based on the book by James Frey, for Warner Bros. Pictures. The story is described as a first-person nonfiction account of a man's recovery from a nearly fatal addiction to drugs and desperate living. Plan B and John Wells are producing.

* New Line Cinema has reunited the Tony Award-winning HAIRSPRAY team to bring the Broadway musical to the bigscreen. Director Jack O'Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell will make their feature helming bows on the project, joining screenwriters Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan and lyricists Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. New Line hopes to put the film into production in time for a 2006 release.

* Denzel Washington has lined up his next two directing assignments: Miramax Films' THE GREAT DEBATERS and Alcon Entertainment's BROTHERS IN ARMS. DEBATERS is based on the true story of a professor at the historically black Wiley College in East Texas. In 1935, Melvin B. Tolson inspired his students to form the college's first debating team, which went on to defeat Harvard in national championships. Harpo Films is producing the pic, with Suzan-Lori Parks rewriting a script by Robert Eisele (RAY). BROTHERS is based on the book by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton. David Chisolm adapted the screenplay, which chronicles the first all-black tank battalion's 183 days on the frontlines, including fighting during the Battle of the Bulge.

* Tom Dey is in negotiations to direct FAILURE TO LAUNCH, written by Tom Astle and Matt Ember, for Scott Rudin Prods. and Paramount Pictures. The comedy centers on a thirtysomething guy who begins to suspect that his parents actually set him up with the love of his life in an attempt to get him to finally move out their home.

* Simon Kinberg (FANTASTIC FOUR, MR. & MRS. SMITH) will write the script for X3 for 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios.

* Disney picked up Michelle McGrath's pitch HIP HOP NANNY based on the true story of a Scottish woman who comes to the United States to become a nanny for a hip hop/rap couple and their child.

* Roger Allers (LION KING) has joined the directing team of Sony Pictures Animation's upcoming animated feature OPEN SEASON, and Steve Bencich and Ron J. Friedman have come on board as writers. Also, Lisa Addario and Joey Syracuse have been hired to write SURF'S UP, the studio's second animated feature about surfing penguins.

* Chris Columbus will write and direct a screen adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer- and Tony-winning musical RENT for Revolution Studios. Production is expected to begin by next spring for a holiday 2005 release. Columbus has also closed a deal with Warner Bros. to develop and direct SLANTED AND ENCHANTED based on a script by Ben Queen. It's described as a dramedy about a recovered pathological liar who must return home and interact with his parents in order to unravel the mystery of his sister's illness. Things spiral out of control, though, as he falls into self-destructive patterns.

* Stephen and Paul Raphael, sons of director Frederic, are making a mockumentary about the world's bestselling vibrator, the Rabbit, popularized on "Sex in the City." Scripted and produced by Stephen, exec produced by Paul, RABBIT FEVER follows a group of recovering Rabbit addicts. Stephanie Powers and John Standing appear alongside a young cast of unknowns, with cameos from Richard Branson, Germaine Greer and Tom Conti. Ian Denyer directs.


* Emmett/Furla Films has picked up the feature rights to the true-life story of Rin Tin Tin. The original puppy was saved from the ruins of a bombed-out kennel during World War I. The German shepherd grew up to become Rin Tin Tin, star of 22 films.

* Intellectual Properties Worldwide has acquired feature rights to the long-running comicbook GROO THE WANDERER, created by Sergio Aragones with Mark Evanier. Deeply dim, the title character is nonetheless able to lay waste to dragons, wizards and witches as he travels with his adoring dog.

* Five Windows Prods. and Circle Of Confusion are developing a live-action remake of French animated sci-fier FANTASTIC PLANET. Other projects for Five Windows include a remake of 1972 British supernatural thriller THE ASPHYX, about a man who can photograph souls as they leave the dying, and 1970 pic BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW, in which the children of a village slowly become a satanic coven. The company is teamed with co-producer Ian Levy on EVENMERE, an adaptation of James Stoddard's fantasy novel THE HIGH HOUSE.

* Dimension Films has optioned film rights to Japanese author Koji Suzuki's (THE RING) short story ADRIFT from Kadokawa Pictures. It's the story of a crew of fishermen who come across an abandoned yacht only to discover that it is haunted.

* Sean Connery has dropped out of Fox's JOSIAH'S CANON. Pic has been in development for some time and was ready to begin shooting in Prague in February with Brett Ratner directing.

* MGM has put the development of a new James Bone installment on hold. As a result, the movie will not be hitting theaters in its traditional November 2005 slot as originally planned.

* Miramax and Dimension Films have inked a multi-year agreement Wild Brain to co-finance and co-produce CGI-animated films. First up is OPUS, based on the penguin character from Berkeley Breathed's Pulitzer Prize-winning comicstrip BLOOM COUNTY. Craig Mazin (SCARY MOVIE 3) is writing the script.

* AEON FLUX has resumed production after Paramount and MTV were forced to shut down production of the sci-fi actioner Aug. 31, two weeks after lensing started, due to an injury suffered by Charlize Theron.


(NOT from the trades)

* TYING THE KNOT, a documentary about two woman in their personal struggle for equality following the losses of their partners, opened this weekend in select cities. The film claims to go behind the politics and expose the deeply personal side behind the fight for marriage equality. Visit for more.

* 13 SECONDS will be available on Special Edition DVD in video stores everywhere in the US and Canada on October 19th. This is the film that Joe Bob Briggs of UPI and TNT's MonsterVision declared "a technical tour-de-force that turns every horror cliche upside down. This film is disturbing." Go to for more.

* Movie related paintings, concept art and sketches at

* Assouline Publishing (Jean-Pierre Dufreigne's HITCHCOCK STYLE, Dolce & Gabbana's HOLLYWOOD, Diane Von Furstenberg's THE WRAP and Amanda Eliasch's BRITISH ARTISTS AT WORK) will release a fantastic new book entitled The Movie Game Book: A Serious Pursuit of Film Trivia by Pierre Murat and Michel Grisolia. For more information visit

* Check out a review of the final cut of ALL BABES WANT TO KILL ME that debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con and an interview with Colin Miller and Alex Cain at

Until next week...

Elston Gunn

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