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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Father Geek here with the 1st of Elston's regular weekly reports on what's up in Hollywoodland that I've had a chance to put up on the site since Harry's trip to the emergency ward a couple of weeks ago. Now that Harry's all set up in his Fortress of Solitude I'll see to it that Elston's column gets posted each week. Sooo, here's a double dose of confirmed Tinseltown news for you...

THE WEEKLY RECAP...

TAKEN FROM VARIETY AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

CASTING

* Eva Mendes (HITCH) will star in GHOST RIDER, an adaptation of the Marvel Comics comic book, opposite Nicolas Cage for director Mark Steven Johnson. Mendes will play Roxanne Simpson, girlfriend to stunt motorcyclist Johhny Blaze. Wes Bentley will play the villain Blackheart. Shane Salerno wrote the original draft of the Columbia project. * Matt Long ("Jack & Bobby") is in talks to play a younger version of the title character played by Nicolas Cage. Sam Elliott also stars.

* Maria Bello has been added to the ensemble cast of THANK YOU FOR SMOKING from Room 9 and ContentFilm. Aaron Eckhart, William H. Macy, Robert Duvall and Katie Holmes also star in the adaptation of Christopher Buckley's Big Tobacco novel, directed by Jason Reitman.

* Dougray Scott joins THE MERMAIDS SINGING for New Films Intl., E3 Entertainment and Samuelson Prods. He will play an estranged father in the adaptation of Lisa Carey's novel, also starring Jessica Lange, Neve Campbell and Evan Rachel Wood. Robin Swicord is attached to write and direct.

* Carly Schroeder (MEAN CREEK) has signed on to Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's THE WRONG ELEMENT. She will play Harrison Ford's daughter in director Richard Loncraine's kidnapping thriller, also starring Virginia Madsen and Paul Bettany.

* Craig T. Nelson has been cast in Fox 2000 THE FAMILY STONE opposite Diane Keaton. They'll play a bohemian husband and wife who despise their son's upscale fiancee in the romantic comedy, written and to be directed by Thomas Bezucha.

* John Cusack will next star in Bruce Beresford's thriller THE CONTRACT opposite Morgan Freeman for Millennium Films. It's the story of a family outing that turns deadly when a grandfather, son and grandson stumble across the path of a hired killer. Stephen Katz and John Darrouzet penned the script.

* Eva Longoria ("Desperate Housewives") is in final talks to play an up-and-coming secret agent in Outlook Pictures and Furthur Films' THE SENTINEL, based on the novel by Gerald Petievich, starring Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland and Kim Basinger. Clark Johnson is attached to direct. Douglas is already attached to play a Secret Service agent enmeshed in a furtive affair with the first lady. When another agent is murdered, Douglas becomes a suspect and is caught up in what may be a plot to assassinate the president. Sutherland plays Douglas' protege. George Nolf (OCEAN'S TWELVE) penned the screenplay.

* Ralph Fiennes will play the lead role in the adaptation of South African author J.M. Coetzee's Booker Prize-winning novel DISGRACE, to be shot in South Africa later this year. Fiennes will play a divorced Cape Town professor who, after having an affair with a student, moves to the Eastern Cape, only to become entangled in a disturbing web of post-apartheid politics. Steve Jacobs and Anna-Maria Monticelli will direct.

* Elisha Cuthbert, Camilla Bell, Martin Donovan and Edie Falco will star in THE ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE for Power Up and writer/director Jamie Babbit (BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER). It's about a high school girl who finds a sense of purpose after joining a radical feminist group.

* Tim Roth, Nick Nolte and Neve Campbell are set to star in the indie drama THE DEATH OF HARRY TOBIN for writer/director Daniel Haney and producer Peter Glatzer. The pic is set in an isolated community on an English island, where a young woman writes to the mainland about witnessing a murder confession when she was a girl. An investigator comes to unearth the truth of the murder. Nolte portrays the pillar of the community.

* Sean Hayes and his Hazy Mills Prods. partner Todd Milliner have pacted with Walden Media for a bigscreen comedy for Hayes to star in. It's about a social misfit who seems like he'll finally be free of his domineering mother, until her soul leaps into his body right after her fatal accident.

* Penelope Cruz will star in Pedro Almodovar's next film once he's chosen it. Almodover is developing VOLVER (RETURN), a comedy about three women who travel from Spain's south to Madrid seeking a better life, and LA TEMPESTAD SONADA (DREAMED STORM), a lyrical drama.

* Kal Penn (HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE) has joined the cast of Bryan Singer's SUPERMAN movie for Warner Bros. Pictures. Penn will play Lex Luthor's right-hand man, a genius henchman named Stanford. Kevin Spacey is playing Luthor.

* Adrienne Barbeau has been tapped for the lead role in the thriller UNHOLY for Sky Whisper Prods. Barbeau will star opposite Nicholas Brendon as a grieving mother who uncovers a government conspiracy involving Nazism and witchcraft. Pic will be directed by Daryl Goldberg.

* David Lago ("The Young and the Restless"), Allison Munn (WHITE OLEANDER) and Shonda Farr ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") star in the indie romance pic A COUPLE OF DAYS AND NIGHTS, written and directed by Vaughn Verdi.

* Paul Giamatti will star opposite Edward Norton in THE ILLUSIONIST for Bull's Eye Entertainment. It's the story of a magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna who falls in love with a woman who becomes engaged to a prince. He then uses his powers to win her back and undermine the stability of the royal house of Vienna. Neil Burger directs.

* Dylan McDermott will star opposite former Miss World Aishwarya Rai (BRIDE AND PREJUDICE) in THE MISTRESS OF SPICES for director Paul Mayeda Berges. Production starts next week. The project is an adaptation of Chitra Divakaruni's novel about an Indian woman who runs a San Francisco spice shop. Her wares seem to have the power to cure her customers' problems, but her magic fades when she falls in love with an American.

* Scott Mechlowicz (EUROTRIP) and Amy Smart will star in THE WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR for director Victor Salva. Based on Dan Millman's autobio, it's the story of a college student who's training to be an Olympic gymnast when he meets a mysterious old man who becomes his mentor. Screenplay was adapted by Kevin Bernhardt, Bob Dolman and Salva.

* Rene Russo will star opposite Dennis Quaid in MGM/Paramount's remake of family comedy YOURS, MINE AND OURS, for director Raja Gosnell. Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball co-starred in the 1968 original as a widower with 10 children marrying a widow with eight kids. The remake follows two single parents who plan to elope but must deal with the children trying to sabotage the marriage.

* Virginia Madsen and Jimmy Bennett have signed on to star opposite Harrison Ford in THE WRONG ELEMENT for director Richard Loncraine, Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow. Madsen will plays the wife of Ford's character, a security expert who specializes in making banks theft-proof. The expert's wife and daughter are kidnapped in order to force him to steal money from a bank he's been hired to protect. Bennett will play Ford's son, while Paul Bettany plays the villain.

* Dylan Walsh, William H. Macy and Julia Stiles are starring in EDMOND, an adaptation of the David Mamet play being directed by Stuart Gordon. The play centers on Edmond Burke, a successful businessman who walks out on his family on the advice of a fortune teller and plunges into the vortex of New York's hellish underworld, where he is mugged and robbed before he kills a pimp and a would-be actress, finally ending up in prison. Joe Mantegna and Mena Suvari also star.

* Sam Huntington has been cast as Jimmy Olsen and Eva Marie Saint will play Martha Kent in Bryan Singer's SUPERMAN movie. The cast includes Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, Hugh Laurie as Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White and James Marsden as Richard White. Kate Bosworth is in negotiations to play Lois Lane.

* Peter Falk has been tapped for the lead role in Corner Stone Pictures' RETIREMENT, which features rapper Coolio, Rip Torn, George Segal, Ossie Davis and Charlie Murphy. Charlie Picerni will direct Jon Warner's script.

* Christopher Marquette ("Joan Of Arcadia") has been cast in JUST FRIENDS from New Line. He will appear with Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris and Amy Smart in the romantic comedy directed by Roger Kumble and written by Adam Davis.

* Jonathan T. Floyd has signed on to Mark Rydell's gambling drama JUMP SHOT. He'll play a federal agent trying to bring down a bookie in the pic. Tim Roth, Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger also star.

* Woody Harrelson, Sean Bean, Michelle Monaghan and Richard Jenkins are joining the cast of Warner Bros. Pictures and Participant Prods.' untitled Niki Caro project also starring Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Jeremy Renner. The movie centers on a single mom who rallies her female co-workers to rise above unfair treatment at a local mining company.

* Sissy Spacek and Woody Harrelson have joined the cast of Warner Bros./Participant Prods.' upcoming UNTITLED NIKI CARO PROJECT, starring Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sean Bean, Richard Jenkins, Jeremy Renner and Michelle Monaghan. Spacek and Jenkins play the parents of Theron's Josie Aimes, a single mom who rallies her female co-workers to rise above the unfair treatment they face at a local mining company. Harrelson plays Josie's lawyer, Bean plays the boyfriend of Josie's best friend Glor, Renner is a mineworker and former classmate of Josie's, and Monaghan is Josie's fellow mineworker. Michael Seitzman wrote the script with Caro directing.

* Jacinda Barrett (THE HUMAN STAIN, LADDER 49) will star opposite Zach Braff in THE LAST FIRST KISS for DreamWorks and Lakeshore Entertainment. She replaces Rachel McAdams who bowed out for scheduling reasons. Tony Goldwyn will direct from a screenplay by Paul Haggis.

* Tim Roth has joined the cast of the gambling drama JUMP SHOT for director Mark Rydell, Bob Yari Prods. and Apollo Media. Roth will play the villain Victor in the indie ensemble drama also starring Danny DeVito, Kim Basinger, Nick Cannon, Forest Whitaker, Carla Gugino, Jay Mohr, Kelsey Grammer and Ray Liotta. Robert Tannen wrote the script.

* Sean "Puffy" Combs will develop a heist action-comedy to topline for Paramount/MTV Films. The untitled project, to be produced by MTV, Maverick Entertainment Films and Combs' Bad Boy Worldwide EntertainmentBad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, will be set in Combs' hometown of Miami during the Miami Grand Prix and will be focused on the fast-paced, multi-cultural side of the city.

* Owen Wilson has optioned journalist John Falk's book HELLO TO ALL THAT: A MEMOIR OF WAR, ZOLOFT AND PEACE. Wilson plans to star in and produce the adaptation. Falk tells how he rallied from a near-suicidal state of depression by plunging himself into Sarajevo at the height of the civil war in 1993. He went armed with primitive recording equipment, clothes and a tube socksock stuffed with the antidepression drug Zoloft. Knowing nothing about reporting and no outlet for his dispatches, one family took pity on him and gave him his first big scoop, an interview with a Bosnian sharpshooter. Falk, in turn, helped the family by securing scholarships to U.S. colleges for their teenage kids.

* Catherine Zeta-Jones is in negotiations to star in and may produce RACHEL'S HOLIDAY, based on the novel by Marian Keyes, for Working Title Films and director Francesca Joseph. In the dramatic story with comic moments, the protag overdoses on sleeping pills and then finds herself losing her boyfriend, best friend and job before being flown from New York back to Dublin, Ireland, to check into a rehab clinic.

* Juliette Binoche, Heather Graham, Forest Whitaker and Matthew Modine will star in Abel Ferrara's religious-themed MARY for Central Films. Binoche plays an actress who becomes fascinated by Mary Magdalene after playing her in a film. Thesp's obsession takes her from New York on a voyage of discovery to Rome and Jerusalem. Cast also includes Marion Cotillard and Gabriella Wright. Script was co-written by Simone Lageoles and Massimo Cortesi.

* Antonio Banderas will take the lead in TAKE THE LEAD for director Liz Friedlander. Inspired by the true story of international ballroom dancer Pierre Dulane, Banderas will star as a former professional dancer who volunteers to teach dance in the New York public school system. When his ballroom methods clash with his students' hip-hop instincts, he teams up with them to create a new style of dance and becomes their mentor in the process. Dianne Houston wrote the script. Dulane also was the subject of the hit Slamdance festival documentary MAD HOT BALLROOM.

* Jack Nicholson will join Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in Martin Scorsese's THE DEPARTED for Warner Bros. Nicholson would play an Irish gang boss while the younger duo are opposing undercover cops. A female costar is yet to be chosen to play a cop psychiatrist.

* Sarah Jessica Parker will star opposite Matthew McConaughey in FAILURE TO LAUNCH for Paramount, director Tom Dey and producer Scott Rudin. Production begins in April. McConaughey will play a thirtysomething guy who lives with his parents and uses them as a way to avoid committing to a woman. He changes his mind when he meets the woman of his dreams. But the slacker has the nagging suspicion that his parents may have hired her in a desperate attempt to get him out of their house.

* Dustin Hoffman is joining the cast of STRANGER THAN FICTION for director Marc Forster and Three Strange Angels. Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson and Queen Latifah also star in the story of an IRS auditor who inexplicably finds himself the subject of a narrator only he can hear, who tells him that events have been set in motion that will lead to his imminent death. Hoffman will play a professor who helps the auditor in his attempts to find the narrator and to change his story before it's too late.

DIRECTOR/WRITER ATTACHMENTS

* Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi will write the feature adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX for Universal Pictures and director Sylvain Chomet. Gary Ross is producing through his Larger Than Life Prods.

* J.T. Petty is writing/directing THE BURROWERS for Lions Gate Films and Blue Star. Horror film set in the Wild West is described as ALIEN meets THE SEARCHERS.

* Mira Nair will direct Kal Penn, Zuleikha Robinson, Irrfan Khan and Tabu in THE NAMESAKE, an adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning novel, for Fox Searchlight, Indian United Television Motion Pictures (UTV Motion Pictures) and Japanese Entertainment Farm. Kate Hudson is in talks to join.

* Lorene Scafaria sold her comedy script THE MIGHTY FLYNN for Warner Independent and Heyday Films. It's about a corporate efficiency expert whose job it is to fire people and whose whole life is turned upside down when he is sacked.

* Elizabeth Kruger and Craig Shapiro will adapt Jennifer Weiner's novel LITTLE EARTHQUAKES for Universal. The book centers on a trio of pregnant women who meet in yoga class and become friends as they share the joys and pains of childbirth and motherhood.

* Peter Greenaway plans to shoot NIGHTWATCHING, a film on the life of Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn. The story will concentrate on the creation of "The Nightwatch," considered by many to be Rembrandt's most famous painting, and the impact it had on his private life.

* John Curran (WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE) will direct Edward Norton in period drama THE PAINTED VEIL for Warner Independent Pictures and Stratus Film Co., with Naomi Watts in talks to star. Set in 1922 London, story concerns a restless married woman who sets out on an odyssey of self-discovery that begins with cheating on her conservative scientist husband and ends with battling cholera in the Far East. Ron Nyswaner adapted the script from the novel by W. Somerset Maugham.

* Seven Arts Pictures has optioned the rights to the script DEAL, written by Gil Cates Jr. and Marc Weinstock, which Cates is attached to direct. The story is set against the world of high-stakes poker and follows an ex-gambler who meets up with a hot-shot, card-playing college student and teaches him a few things about the game. Then the aging pro returns to the game he left 30 years ago and must face his protege in the finals of the world series of poker.

* Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft will write the remake to the 1965 Jerry Lewis comedy FAMILY JEWELS for Paramount/Nickelodeon. Project, which has been in development for several years, centers on an orphaned rich girl who must choose between relatives fighting for custody of her while discovering that her chauffeur is also her best friend.

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Veteran animator and visual effects supervisor Kevin Kutchaver has written and will direct the retro sci-fi comedy RESCUE ROCKET X-5 for his new production company Sheer Force of Will Pictures. Company plans to make two or three pics a year, all shot on HDV.

* Marcus Raboy (FRIDAY AFTER NEXT) will direct WHITEBREAD for New Line Cinema. Project tells the fish-out-of-water story of a wealthy white teenager who, in order to avoid losing his inheritance, is forced to join his grandfather's blue-blood fraternity -- only to discover it has become all black. Peter Cohen wrote the initial draft of the script; Rob Lieber wrote the latest.

* David Steinberg will write LOVE AT SECOND BITE, a sequel/update of 1979's LOVE AT FIRST BITE, for Tony Thomopoulos and George Hamilton. Hamilton also is producing and is in talks about reprising his role as Dracula. The pic takes place 25 years later, centering on Dracula's Americanized son, who has rejected his family's heritage and is getting married to a human. Trouble ensues when he learns that his vampire relatives are coming to America for the wedding.

* Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and screenwriter John Logan (THE AVIATOR) are in early talks develop a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1948 classic DRUNKEN ANGEL for Warner Bros. Kurosawa's film, which was set in postwar Japan, centered on a young criminal who is being treated for tuberculosis by an alcoholic doctor. Scorsese will also direct a big-screen adaptation of Japanese author Shusaku Endo's book SILENCE for Hollywood Gang.

* Warner Bros. snapped up Kim Barker's romantic comedy spec LICENSE TO WED about a young couple who must endure a hellish marriage prep course.

* Twentieth Century Fox has picked up Eileen Walls's script WHO'S YOUR MOMMA about a group of bored and frustrated suburban mothers who form a garage band and begin to write and perform songs about the often-ignored realities of motherhood.

* Mount Film Co. has optioned and commissioned a rewrite of scribe Gregg Moscoe's original screenplay MAN, WOMAN, CAR, which is inspired by a true story concerning a battle between legendary sports car manufacturer Enzo Ferrari and one of his early customers, a wealthy American woman.

* William Butler will direct Ventana Media Group's feature DEAD GRRL, written by Bruce Sakow, about a group of teens who throw an impromptu party while babysitting a pampered pageant child, who turns out to be a killer.

* Katt Shea sold her new script THE TUTOR to Phoenix Pictures for Robert Chartoff and Lynn Hendee to produce. Shea also is attached to direct the pic, based on Peter Abraham's latest suspense book. Story revolves around an affable, brilliant man who moves in with a family to help their son improve his SAT scores. After earning their trust, he then subtly exploits each household member, imperiling the family.

* Cheech and Chong are in the final stages of writing a script for a feature film and hope to start production sooner rather than later.

* James Cox (WONDERLAND) will direct the supernatural thriller THE REAPING for Warner Bros. and Dark Castle. Story, based on a spec by Brian Rousso and penned by the team of Chad & Carey Hayes, is centered on a woman who debunks religious phenomena coming to a small town.

* Robert Cort Prods. has picked up Kara Holden's romantic comedy pitch MY GIRLS about a strict school principal whose quiet, conservative fiancee turns out to harbor outrageous secrets.

* David Marconi will direct the geopolitical thriller THE INFORMER from his own script for Mimi Polk Gitlin's newly formed Lion Eyes Entertainment. It's a post-9/11 thriller centered on an FBI agent who battles bureaucracy to root out terrorists.

* DreamWorks has picked up BLADES OF GLORY, a comedy by Jeff and Craig Cox set in the world of men's figure skating, with Red Hour Films' Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld producing with First Entertainment. Story concerns two former rivals who, stripped of their gold medals from the 2002 Winter Games and permanently banned from the men's singles Olympics figure skating competition, exploit a loophole in their suspensions and join forces to compete in the pairs category.

* Anton Corbijn will direct a feature biopic of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, based on the biography TOUCHING FROM A DISTANCE, for Claraflora, Deborah Curtis and Tony Wilson.

* Paul Greengrass is set to write and direct THEY MARCHED INTO SUNLIGHT, an adaptation of the Vietnam War-era book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning David Maraniss, for Universal and Playtone. The book focuses on parallel stories that took place on two days in October 1967. On one side of the world, U. of Wisconsin students protested against Dow Chemical for its production of napalm. The peaceful antiwar demonstration escalated into a riot. At the same time, a platoon of U.S. soldiers was ambushed by Viet Cong. A fierce firefight claimed the lives of 61 Americans. The two unconnected events galvanized opposition to the war on college campuses.

* Jeff Lowell has sold the romantic comedy pitch FETCH to Sony for Original to produce. Pic is described as LOOK WHO'S TALKING but with a dog instead of a baby.

* Edgar Wright (SHAUN OF THE DEAD) is in talks to direct SCOTT PILGRIM'S PRECIOUS LITTLE LIFE for Universal Pictures and Marc Platt Prods. The project tells the story of a young slacker who meets the woman of his dreams but finds that he can win her only by first battling and defeating her seven evil ex-boyfriends. It's based on the graphic novel SCOTT PILGRIM VOLUME 1, written by Bryan Lee O'Malley.

* Thomas Dean Donnelly and Josh Oppenheimer will adapt AIRBORN for Sommers Co. and Universal Pictures. Based on a children's book by Kenneth Oppel, the project tells the tale of a 15-year-old boy who works on a luxury airship that is part dirigible, part passenger cruise ship. When pirates attack the airship, the boy, along with a female partner, embark on an adventure that includes strange flying creatures, secret lairs, nasty villains and uncharted volcanic islands.

* Marcus Nispel (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) will remake the 1987 Norwegian suspense/actioner PATHFINDER for Phoenix Pictures. Original pic followed the exploits of warring tribes in ancient Norway. But in the new version, with a script by screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis, story concerns the little-known skirmishes that took place between the Vikings and Native Americans a thousand years ago. When a Viking boy is left behind, he is adopted and raised as an Indian despite his straw-blonde hair. When a Viking raid wipes out his village, he becomes his adopted people's savior in battling the Norsemen Ken Watanabe is in talks to star.

* Ericson Core will direct the Disney/Mayhem Pictures football drama INVINCIBLE based on the true story of a Philadelphia Eagles fan who emerged from a publicity stunt open tryout to become an impact player on the team.

* Martin Campbell will direct CASINO ROYALE, the 21st James Bond film, which also was the title of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, published in 1953.

* Julie Taymor has come on board to direct the musical ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE for Revolution Studios. The project, which will feature 18 songs by the Beatles, is a love story about a British boy and an American girl set against the backdrop of the social upheaval of the 1960s. Although not about the Fab Four, the musical will use their songs to drive the narrative, with the actors singing and dancing to the classic tunes. Script was written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (THE COMMITMENTS). Production is expected to begin in September for a Thanksgiving 2006 release.

* Columbia Pictures and Mandate Pictures have picked up YEAR OF WONDERS, a drama written by Tim Bogart to be produced by Alan Riche, Peter Riche and Peter Schlessel. The story centers on a father who is recovering from the death of his wife and takes his daughter on a trip to experience the Seven Wonders of the World and in the process reclaim their lives.

* Microsoft has hired Alex Garland (28 DAYS LATER) to adapt the HALO videogames into one movie. Garland's screenplay will then be offered to studios as a complete script and rights package.

MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCTION TIDBITS

* New Line has picked up rights to Kate DiCamillo's unpublished children's book THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE for a bigscreen adaptation. Story follows an arrogant toy china rabbit that must head off on a series of adventures in order to learn to love.

* ERENDIRA LA INDOMABLE (ERENDIRA THE UNTAMABLE) is the first feature to be shot in the Purepecha lingo spoken by Indians in west-central Mexico, about four hours from Mexico City. Pic is helmer Juan Mora's second feature, after 1991's RETURN TO AZTLAN.

* Fox is still committed to making X-MEN 3 and is sticking with its release date: May 5, 2006. Warner Bros. has set the release for Wolfgang Petersen's THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE on the same date.

* Twentieth Century Fox has moved FANTASTIC FOUR to July 8, the same as BEWITCHED and SKELETON KEY will be released. Sony has opted to take Jim Carrey/Tea Leoni remake of FUN WITH DICK AND JANE out of the summer release schedule on June 24 and position it as a holiday comedy on Dec. 21, the same day as Warner Bros.' Rob Reiner-helmed romantic comedy RUMOR HAS IT and Universal's bigscreen musical adaptation THE PRODUCERS.

* Paramount has picked up the rights to Michael Stadther's bestselling children's book A TREASURE'S TROVE for Cruise/Wagner to produce. The book has caused a sensation over the clues in the book that lead to a dozen gold tokens hidden in public places in the U.S. and are redeemable for jewels worth a total of $1 million. The author hid the tokens himself and insists they can be accessed without digging, moving or disturbing objects or structures. No one has yet found one of the gold tokens. The book revolves around 12 forest creatures who employ a woodcarver, his half-elf wife and their winged pet to save their friends who disappear after being crystallized by falling dust.

* Paramount Pictures has optioned the upcoming Christopher Reich novel THE PATRIOTS CLUB for Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner's C/W Prods. Story centers on a young investment banker whose life is turned upside down after receiving the man of the year award. The banker is subsequently accused of murder and forced to go on the lam, where he learns that he has been framed by a secret society that was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1787 that has manipulated world events for centuries.

* Production on Fox Searchlight's EUCALYPTUS, starring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, has been postponed to allow further work on the script.

* Warner Bros. has optioned the Dave King novel THE HA-HA for Akiva Goldsman to produce through his Weed Road Productions. Goldsman wants to make his directorial debut after setting a screenwriter to adapt the novel. The novel revolves around a Vietnam vet who has adjusted to life after a land mine explosion leaves him unable to speak or write. His high-school sweetheart, who had a child with another man, disrupts his mundane life when she asks him to care for her son while she goes to rehab to kick a cocaine habit.

* Chorion has purchased the rights to author Raymond Chandler's books including Los Angeles gumshoe Philip Marlowe. Chorion also owns rights to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot titles, as well books by Georges Simenon and Margery Allingham.

GUNN SHOTS

(NOT from the trades)

* James Ricardo's SUNNYVALE will be screening at Cinequest 2005 on March 4th at 9pm and March 5th at 4:30pm. The comedy centers on a man who gets involved with three women at once. Visit http://www.cinequest.org/2005/programguide/film_list.php for more. The website of actress Ute Werner is http://www.ute-werner.com

* Having played 15 film festivals around the world, Jeff Renfroe and Marteinn Thorsson's PARANOIA: 1.0 is now being released on DVD. The official Paranoia: 1.0 website is located here: http://www.onepointo.com/ See the trailers at http://homepage.mac.com/mtmv/onepoint0/iMovieTheater35.html.

* Producer Lee Daniels is in preproduction for a film called LADIES NIGHT to be directed by Patrick Ian Polk. Alicia Keys, Mariah Carrey, Aishwarya Rai, Macy Grey, Mo'Nique, Missy Elliott and Patti La Belle will star. Lee Daniels is waiting confirmation from Beyonce Knowles to join the cast. The film deals with a group of ladies who get together and go out for a night on the town and deal with everybody's problems.

* We are pleased to announce our official "Call For Entries" into Telluride IndieFest 2005. The dates for the 2005 event are: August 31 - September 4. Check out http://tellurideindiefest.com for more info.

* There will be screenings for Travesty Productions EDGE CODES - THE ART OF MOTION PICTURE EDITING on Feb. 18-20. Visit http://www.edgecodes.com for more.

* Trailer for Alex Ferrari's action/thriller BROKEN can be seen at http://www.whatisbroken.com/BROKEN_TRAILER.mov.

* Martial artist afflicted with a disease that makes beautiful women want to kill him goes on a suicide mission to find true love anyway. Debuting at the San Diego ComicCon, ALL BABES WANT TO KILL ME is a kung fu comedy written and directed by Colin Miller and produced by Alex Cain. The movie trailer can be downloaded at http://www.allbabeswanttokillme.com and information about Mercritis, the real disease the film is based on can be found at http://www.freewebs.com/mercritisonline/index.htm.

* Horror film CULT has finished principal filming at Universal Studios and other locations in Los Angeles. It's now in post-production, but no release date has been set. Rachel Miner, Taryn Manning, and Joel Michaely star in the pic directed by Joe Knee. It's about a college student who is studying the Massacre of the Cult of Kwan Yin along with fellow classmates. When one of their classmates is found dead, they set out to uncover the truth. Visit http://www.horror.com/php/article-701-1.html Indie thriller/horror film for more.

* Producer Martin Feinberg is set to open WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE on February 25, 2005 at the Village East Cinemas in New York City. Adam Arkin, Robert Costanzo, Beverly D'Angelo, Elle Macpherson, Amy Madigan, Laura San Giacomo, David Straithairn, John Tenney and Lauren Tom star with special appearances by Bill Murray and Martin Scorsese.

* Columbia Pictures is in advanced talks to pick up the screen rights to 102 MINUTES, a newly published book about 9/11 by New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn featuring tales of heroism and incompetence, with the added element of a ticking clock. Title refers to the time span between the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. and the time the first tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. Book examines the disaster from the vantage point of those inside the buildings and details the frantic efforts that went into addressing the crisis and trying to save lives.

* Producer Effie Brown (REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES) has unveiled a string of projects in development for her Duly Noted production company: COLD KISS, directed by Wendy Rubin, follows a group of characters running for their lives over a Thanksgiving weekend; Marco Orsini's AMERICAN WAY, a coming-of-age story about a Puerto Rican boy living in 1970s Georgia; BOBBY ZERO, Markus and Mason Canter's satirical romantic comedy about a philosopher who loses his cult following and is forced to take a job in advertising; director Silas Howard's EXACTLY LIKE YOU, which follows a guy who seems to have it all but is hiding the secret that he was born a woman; Robert O'Hara's family reunion horror feature MY PLACE IN THE HORROR; Ben Berkowitz's urban drama POLISH BAR, about blacks and Jews co-existing in a Chicago neighborhood; and Tim Bui's drama POWDER BLUE, about a group of Angelenos searching for human connections and faith.

* Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment will buy remake rights to RING OF FIRE: THE EMILE GRIFFITH STORY, the Dan Klores/Ron Berger-directed documentary that just bowed at Sundance. The docu focuses on '60s welterweight boxing champ Griffith, who battered champ Benny "Kid" Paret into unconsciousness on a nationally televised title bout. The beating took place after Paret taunted Griffith with the term "Maricon," a derogatory Spanish term for homosexual. Paret never regained consciousness and died 10 days later from the beating. Though Griffith wasn't prosecuted and went on to fight for 15 more years and win six titles, the impact of that fight was huge. The death created a worldwide political and media hailstorm, with politicians calling for the sport to be banned. Boxing was taken off TV for 10 years in the U.S. Griffith never recovered from the stigma of killing his rival.

* Disney is developing a project that takes place at the San Diego Marine Mammals base, where in years past the Navy researched the hydrodynamics of torpedoes by studying dolphins. The Navy discovered the mammals were trainable and developed a program in which dolphins, sea lions and seals were trained to do recon, rescue downed pilots, look for mines and other tasks. The original dolphins are still in the program today. It has not been determined whether the untitled film will be live action or animated.

If you have a movie to promote, a screening to push, movie gossip missed by the trades, fire a **one-paragraph, 50 words-or-less** GUNN SHOT to elstongunn@hotmail.com.

Until next week...

Elston Gunn

elstongunn@hotmail.com

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 16, 2005, 11:39 p.m. CST

    FIRST!!

    by docfalken

  • Feb. 16, 2005, 11:41 p.m. CST

    Oh for...

    by Darkman

    Good to see this column return. I'm looking forward to that "Scott Pilgrim" movie from Edgar Wright (is the graphic novel any good?). But why a remake/update of LOVE AT FIRST BITE? Why screw with a good thing? The movie comes on at least once a week where I'm at. It is a riot. Pity there's not yet a DVD release. And BTW, call me Firsty McFirstington, of the Bermuda McFirstingtons.

  • Feb. 16, 2005, 11:55 p.m. CST

    so much for proofreading...

    by Spaz Medicine

    So, Ossie Davis is still doing movies, huh?

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 12:34 a.m. CST

    ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE

    by c4andmore

    I'm sure that TITle will change

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 7:27 a.m. CST

    THE BURROWERS don't by any chance cause TREMORS when they move a

    by FrankDrebin

    I can't tell from IMDB or Hollywood Reporter if AIRBORN is live action or not. It sounds SKY CAPTAIN-ish, but it's probably aimed more at kids.

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 9:28 a.m. CST

    With the guarenteed success of Love at Second Bite, perhaps we c

    by Big Bad Clone

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 9:46 a.m. CST

    I find it rather unlikely that Ossie Davis is going to co-star i

    by JackBurton

    Given that the great man died recently and all. You know, you would have thought that someone would have caught that fact. Add to which I believe they've already cast the part with the equally great, and thankfully still with us, Bill Cobbs.

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Christopher3's Weekly Weekly Recap Recap

    by Christopher3

    Ummm... various movies are being made by certain people starring various actors. Seriously, this was the longest Recap I've ever seen at AICN. Nine book adaptations, five romantic comedies, four remakes, three sequels, three biopics, three sports movies, two comic adaptations, and one horror-western. This week's Australian-Production-In-Distress: "Eucalyptus". This week's bad casting award: Elisha Cuthbert for "Itty Bitty Titty Committee." Back from the dead: Edward Norton. And dead, but apparently still working: Ossie Davis.

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 10:54 a.m. CST

    So is Cusack...

    by Childe Roland

    ...reprising the role of Martin Blank for THE CONTRACT? Because I'll bet my last bullet that Freeman plays the grandfather in that pic and, call me a racist if you like, but I can't really see Johnny playing Morgan's son. Another Blank movie would be pretty damned cool, though.

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 6:54 p.m. CST

    I can see it now for" Itty Bitty Titty Committee"...

    by BigTuna

    "And starring Dolly Parton as the Big Titty." Elisha Cuthbert? She's got big ole titty's...

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 7:08 p.m. CST

    absolutely brilliant

    by el oso

    casting nick nolte as an upstanding pillar in an English community. it just doesn't get any better than that, folks.

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Childe Roland - Cusack could be Freeman's son-in-law, or stepson

    by Trader Groucho 2

  • Feb. 17, 2005, 8:51 p.m. CST

    From Elston Gunn Re: Ossie Davis

    by Elston Gunn

    When I included the casting news for RETIREMENT the article I read left Ossie Davis's name in there. I assumed this meant Davis filmed enough of his role to stay in the film without having to be recast. I have now read in a few other non-Variety/Hollywood Reporter articles that Bill Cobb is taking his place in the pic. If the trades in fact did mention this at some point last week, I overlooked it. My apologies.

  • Feb. 18, 2005, 1:36 a.m. CST

    MY EYES!!!!

    by Skraggo

    Damn, this new site revamp looks like ASS!!!