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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Here's your Sunday morning edition of ol' Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP. Father Geek is posting this long report that is perfect for a lazy day of clicking through the events that shaped the Hollywood News scene this past week.

I saw A KNIGHT"S TALE at a press screening this week and loved it. Brian Helgeland can be real proud of his "different" little fun film that he shot in Prague last year. Then with that one not even in theaters yet we heard last week that the suddenly very bust writer/director will be adapting Dennis Lehane's novel "Mystic River," for director Clint Eastwood. The mystery/chiller won't be the only thing from the genre that Brian's got his hooks into because he's also developing Michael Connelly's mystery thriller BLOOD WORK. Father Geek is going to have a hard time waiting for these, especially after the nice job he did on A KNIGHT'S TALE.

Now, fillup your coffee cup, grap your fave breakfast roll and prepare to dig into Elston's weekly review...



* Famke Janssen is in talks to star as the villainess Serleena in MEN IN BLACK 2 for Columbia Pictures and director Barry Sonnenfeld. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will return in their respective roles while Johnny Knoxville will play a two-headed alien and Rosario Dawson will be featured as a love interest to Smith's character. Shooting starts in June.

* Rap star Lil' Bow Wow is in talks to star in LIKE MIKE for 20th Century Fox. The story centers on a teen who discovers a pair of Michael Jordan's shoes that have magical powers that sends the boy to the NBA. The script was written by Mike Elliot, who just sold the screenplay to Fox last week.

* Tony Shalhoub is in talks to join LIFE OF SOMETHING LIKE IT for director Stephen Herek. Angelina Jolie, Christian Kane and Ed Burns are starring in the New Regency romantic comedy.

* Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry and Dagmara Dominczyk will star in the suspense drama THEY, about a young woman who struggles to overcome the terrifying connection between her fears as a child and her severe apprehension of the dark as an adult. Robert Harmon (THE HITCHER) will direct from a script by Brendan Hood.

* Tatum O'Neal joins Tim Curry, Julian Sands and Lacey Chabert in THE SCOUNDREL'S WIFE, an indie pic set in Louisiana during the summer of 1942, after U-boats have sunk American ships. Rumors spread in a small bayou town that a local is aiding the Germans. Glen Pitre directs.

* Joe Pesci is in negotiations to star in a feature project about Mafia hitman Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, who left the federal witness-protection program to partner with some rich suburban kids to deal the drug ecstasy.

* Neve Campbell and Billy Burke will star in LOST JUNCTION for director Peter Masterson. Jeff Cole wrote the script about a woman who is suspected of killing her husband. She takes his money and heads to New Orleans where she finds a guy who has a traumatic past. He falls for her and tries to help get her and her husband's corpse to New Orleans.

* Lucy Liu will star opposite Jeremy Northam in THE COMPANY MAN, a suspense thriller for director Vincenzo Natali and Pandora Films. It's about an disenchanted guy who winds up working as a corporate spy amidst dangerous espionage. His only hope of survival is a mysterious woman.

* Julie Christie and Harold Ramis joins I'M WITH LUCY also starring David Boreanaz, Monica Potter, Gael Garcia Bernal, Anthony LaPaglia, John Hannah and Henry Thomas.

* Christopher Walken and Dyan Cannon have joined Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson and Estella Warren in DOWN & UNDER for producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Castle Rock Entertainment.

* Heather Paige Kent ("That's Life") nabbed a role in THE FIRST 20 MILLION IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST for 20th Century Fox.

* Taryn Manning is in negotiations to join WHITE OLEANDER as a punk rocker living in a series of foster homes.

* Jean Reno will star in WASABI for director Gerard Krawczyk from a script by Luc Besson, based on an idea by Reno.

* Josh Brolin and Timothy Olyphant will star opposite Sarah Wynter in Victor Nunez's pic COASTLINES. It's about a love triangle between an ex-con, a woman and her sheriff husband.

* Kiefer Sutherland will play French painter Paul Gauguin in PARADISE FOUND, a biopic about the artist for Le Studio Canal Plus and writer/director Mario Andreacchio. Natassja Kinski also stars.


* Music video director Jonas Akerlund will direct the indie dark comedy SPUN, starring Jason Schwartzman, Mickey Rourke, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Patrick Fugit, Brittany Murphy and Peter Stormare. Creighton Vero and Will De Los Santos penned the script about an unemployed guy (Schwartzman) who uses methamphetamine and gets entangled with the maker of the drug (Rourke), who takes him on a three-day journey. Murphy plays a stripper/girlfriend to Rourke's character while Suvari plays girlfriend to Leguizamo's dealer character. Fugit will play a speed addict who lives with his mother in a trailer park, while Stormare is cast as a policeman.

* Kasi Lemmons (EVE'S BAYOU) will adapt the Vikram Seth romantic novel AN EQUAL MUSIC for Mirage Enterprises as a possible directing gig for Sydney Pollack. It's about a male violinist and a female pianist who are reunited 10 years after they first met. However, she is married with a family, yet romantic feelings are rekindled and the two have to face their feelings as well as a dark secret.

* Marleen Gorris (ANTONIA'S LINE, MRS. DALLOWAY) will direct LITTLE ASHES, about the love affair between Salvador Dali and poet Federico Garcia Lorca, for Egmond, Main Man and Wanton Muse. Philippa Goslett scripted.

* Brian Helgeland will adapt for Warner Bros. Dennis Lehane's novel "Mystic River," for Warner Bros./Malpaso Prods. and director Clint Eastwood. It's about three boys whose friendship ends when one of them is kidnapped. Twenty-five years later, they reunite and become entangled in a murder investigation after one of their daughters is killed. Helgeland and Eastwood are also developing Michael Connelly's mystery thriller BLOOD WORK.

* Universal and Mostow/Lieberman have optioned the Army comedy pitch SISSYMARIES from Craig Moss and Steven Schoenburg, who'll write the script. It centers on two straight, yet effeminate, men who go through basic training and fight in the military to prove their manhood.

* JC Barros will direct 10029, an indie urban comedy-drama set in East Harlem--the title refers to its ZIP code. The film will tell four interconnected stories, entitled MILAGROS, CONFESSIONS, NIC and THE END. Sarah Jones, Tariq Trotter and Lil' Kim are in talks to star.

* John Irving will adapt and Lasse Hallstrom will helm THE FOURTH HAND, based on the Irving's upcoming novel, for Miramax Films. The story is about a womanizing TV reporter whose hand is bitten off by a lion during a report. He meets a woman who will give him the hand of her husband who just passed away, if he'll help her conceive a child. George Clooney may star.

* James Foley is in talks to direct CONFIDENCE, a suspense drama that Lions Gate picked up from Fine Line Features. Doug Jung wrote the script about a master con man who cheated a victim out of a few thousand dollars when it turns out they're an accountant for a major crime boss. The con and his crew offer to pull off a major con to repay their debt.

* David Ayer (TRAINING DAY) will write SWAT, based on the 1970s TV series, for Columbia Pictures. Zack Snyder is still attached to direct.

* Terry Hayes (ROAD WARRIOR) will rewrite FLIGHT PLAN, the Imagine/Disney thriller, based on a pitch by Peter Dowling.

* Columbia Pictures picked up Andy Fickman's pitch DARKNESS RUNNING about a team of deep-sea divers hired by a billionaire to recover treasure from a pirate shipwreck, but the divers find a mysterious and fatal surprise.

* Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini have sold their comedic pitch GET SERIOUS to Paramount Pictures. It's about a comedy writer who loses his sense of humor yet becomes a better person while trying to get it back.

* Joe Batteer and John Rice (WINDTALKERS) will rewrite THE LAST SAMURAI for New Regency. It's set in the 1870s and revolves around a psychologically traumatized Civil War veteran who goes to Japan as a mercenary for hire. He teams up with a samurai who helps the vet find inner peace.

* Artists Production Group and StudioCanal have purchased the sci-fi action pitch FUTURE TENSE about soliders 200 years in the future who are sent back in time to train in past wars. After World War III, a commando leader gets trapped in World War II and teams up with an unlikely partner to escape the war to return to the future and change the results of World War III. Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson (URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT) will write the script.

* Kenneth Lonergan is adapting the T.H. White novel THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING for producer Mark Gordon and Warner Bros.

* Paul Attanasio is in talks to adapt for Warner Bros. Joseph Kanon's upcoming novel THE GOOD GERMAN for producers Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney. He is also in negotiations to write a new SUPERMAN screenplay for producer Jon Peters. The first project is about an American reporter covering the final Allied summit meeting of World War II searching for a lost love and becoming involved in a murder mystery in the process. Attanasio will sift through the previous SUPERMAN scripts, but will write his own take on the death/rebirth storyline.

* Sharon Maguire (BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY) will direct the romantic comedy MAIL, which is being adapted by Wendy Wasserstein based on Mameve Medwed's 1997 novel of the same name. It follows a divorcee and her struggles with love and career success while dealing with her overbearing mother and her ex-husband, at the same time falling for a postal worker.

* Jersey Films picked up a pitch by Bob Leddy about the lives of Orville and Wilbur Wright, inventors of the airplane.

* David Lindsay-Abaire will adapt the BBC miniseries BERNARD AND GENIE as a feature for Miramax. The comedy centers on a 2,000-year-old genie who comes to help a man who's lost his job and his girlfriend.

* Wendy Wasserstein is in talks to adapt Laura Zigman's unfinished novel HER for Revolution Studios. It's about a D.C. woman who meets a guy who appears to be perfect, but is disappointed when she finds out about his close relationship with his ex.

* Director Bille August (SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW) will direct THE MAID OF BUTTERMERE, a romantic tragedy set in the early 19th century in the Lake District of northern England, where a rogue is in love with a humble country girl. Raymond Khoury scripted.

* New Line Cinema has acquired Mark Kaufman's feature comedy pitch KEY TO THE GIRLS LOCKER ROOM, a teen pic about a womanizing jock who gets to see what it's like to live life from the perspective of a teenage girl.


* Edmonds Entertainment and writer/director/producer Lee Rose have optioned the rights to the Douglas MacKinnon political thriller novel FIRST VICTIM with Elle Macpherson attached to star. It's about a first lady, her fight for her life against her abusive husband and the cover up that ensues. However, she finds salvation in her new love, the president's press secretary.

* Castle Rock picked up the screen rights to RUNT OF THE LITTER, the autobiographical one-man play by Bo Eason, which features the former football player performing a fictionalized version of his own story becoming an undersized, overachieving pro football player, trying to please his distant father in the process.

* Platinum Prods. and Vincent Bugliosi are collaborating on a feature project based on Bugliosi's account of his Charles Manson prosecution: HELTER SKELTER. The book was adapted into a TV movie in 1976, but instead of heavily emphasizing the investigation and prosecution, the film will concentrate more on Manson and the origins of his family.

* Working Title Films is contemplating a sequel to BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, based on the follow-up book by Helen Fielding, BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON. The company is working out a deal for Fieldging to pen the screenplay.

* Columbia Pictures Film Production will shoot four Chinese-English productions this year including the comedy BIG SHOT'S FUNERAL starring Donald Sutherland and Ge You, the mystery DOUBLE VISION, an untitled action film to be directed by martial arts choreographer Corey Yuen (X-MEN) and HEROES OF HEAVEN AND EARTH by writer/director He Ping (RED FIRECRACKER, GREEN FIRECRACKER).

* Fox Searchlight and Bates Entertainment will first produce HOLY WAR about two pastors competing for parishioners as well as THE BUTLER DID IT, a comedy about a slacker and his psychotic butler.

* Sony will release AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS, directed by Joe Roth and starring Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Billy Crystal and Catherine Zeta-Jones, on July 20 opposite JURASSIC PARK 3, directed by Joe Johnston.

* Julia Roberts' Shoelace Prods. and Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Prods. may produce a comedy film about Niagara, a new drink described as the female version of Viagra. The pic will be based on the article "Genie in a Bottle: The Sex Drink That's Rocking Little Rock" by Suzi Parker.

* Director Pedro Almodovar has postponed work on his film MALA EDUCACION (BAD EDUCATION) due to unspecified casting problems. He will instead work on HABLE CON ELLA (TALK TO HER).

Lots of new stuff to talk about, right? New SUPERMAN writer, new SWAT writer, new AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS date, new Joe Pesci movie (where's he been?), new Tatum O'Neal movie (where's she been?), new Reno/Besson collaboration and much much more. Stuff is still happening, strike or no strike. Take care.

Until next week...

Elston Gunn

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