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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY SCRIPT REPORT (Major Sales, Events, and other News!)

* Alan McElroy has written the action script ECKS VS. SEVER in which Antonio Banderas is in final talks to star for Thai director Kaos (FHA). It's about a covert operative who must battle his nemesis in cat-and-mouse mortal combat until the two realize they must join forces to defeat another enemy.

* Phil Lasker's script THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS will be directed by George Hickenlooper (BIG BRASS RING) and will star Julianna Margulies, Andy Garcia, Jason Robards and Mick Jagger. It's about a novelist who begins working at an escort service to help pay the bills. His rocky relationship with his wife leads him to an involvement with a rich woman whose husband is a successful writer.

* Danny Huston will direct his late father John Huston's long-lost screenplay AMPARO about a screenwriter with writer's block who travels to Mexico for inspiration. There, he falls for a young Latina prostitute named Amparo during a "Day of the Dead" festival in a rural village.

* Jonathan Demme is in talks to direct INTOLERABLE CRUELTY for Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment with Hugh Grant and Tea Leoni eyed to star. The story centers on a divorce lawyer who frames a client's wife to get his client released from his marriage without a settlement. The ex-wife then vows for revenge by marrying the divorce attorney and taking her ex for everything he has. Joel and Ethan Coen penned the original draft while Jake Hogan and Barabara Benedek handled rewriting chores.

* Adam Resnick (LUCKY NUMBERS) will rewrite the DreamWorks comedy DATE SCHOOL, in which Ben Stiller is attached to star as a dating instructor who falls for a pupil.

* Ann Cherkis sold her untitled romantic thriller pitch to The Canton Co. and Senator Entertainment. The pitch is a contemporary retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story RAPPACINI'S DAUGHTER with the new version centering on a New York couple who realize they are a somehow involved a feud that is centuries old. Cherkis will script.

* Gustavo Mosquera (MOEBIUS) will direct Jeff Vintar's script THE LONG HELLO AND SHORT GOODBYE for Lion Rock Prods. and Newmarket Group. The RASHOMON-esque style story that begins with a roomful of corpses and flashes back to how each character ended up there.

* Cedric the Entertainer (THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY) and William Stokes will write PREACHING AIN'T EASY for Universal Pictures/Overbrook Entertainment based on an idea by Cedric's manager, Eric Rhone. It's about four eclectic preachers who join together to save a church. Cedric is hoping to cast Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac in the pic with him.

* Stephen Gyllenhaal (LOSING ISAIAH) will direct the Danny Fischer & Katherine "Boo" Maciaszek script THE ITALIAN for Miracle Entertainment about an ordinary man with a unique talent he keeps a secret. When those close to him think his secret is an extramarital affair, he begins to reveal the truth, which ultimately leads to his reconciliation with his son. Shooting begins in March in New York.

* Dan Rosen (DEAD MAN'S CURVE) sold his pitch RAT'S TALE to Crusader Entertaintment for Sid and Marty Krofft to produce. It's a comedic retelling of CINDERELLA from the point of view of the rat who is turned into Cinderella's coachmen, therefore causing him to believe the turn of events is his fairy tale.

* Anthony Jaswinksi wrote WESTWARD, to be directed by Paul Hunter for New Line, about a woman who travels across the country after begin acquitted of her husband's murder. While on the road, she is stalked by a mysterious person with murder on their mind.

* Tony Kayden's script DARKER SAINTS will be helmed by Stephan Elliott (THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT). The indie thriller follows an anthropologist who helps find her prostitute twin sister's murderer. Tony Kayden wrote the script.

* David Kartch will rewrite and direct THE GIRL NEXT DOOR for Fox 2000/Daybreak Prods. about a high schooler who falls in love with a former porn star when she moves in next door. David Wagner and Brent Goldberg wrote the script.

* Dan Schneider's (GOOD BURGER) script LOST AND FOUND will be directed by Shawn Levy and star Frankie Muniz ("Malcolm in the Middle"). The Universal project is about a young boy whose essay for school ends up in the possession of a Hollywood producer, who wants to turn it into a movie. Peter Tollin and Brian Robbins will produce the project.

* Cynthia Cidre (THE FALCONER) will adapt Maeve Binchy's best-selling novel TARA ROAD for Pageturner Prods.

* Alfred Uhry (DRIVING MISS DAISY) will adapt THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK for Fox 2000 for a new feature to be produced next year. With the rights granted by Anne Frank Fonds, the project will use prose from the actual diary. Marc Platt will produce.

* Ron Bass has written the adaptation of French novelist Marc Levy's IF ONLY IT WERE TRUE for DreamWorks and director P.J. Hogan. Production is hoped to begin before the strike deadlines.

* Naomi Foner will write the screen adaptation of PARIS UNDERGROUND by Etta Shiber for Gaylord Films. The book is about two women, one American, the other French, who join together to save Allied soldiers caught behind enemy lines during World War II. Gaylord Films is in talks with Julianne Moore and Winona Ryder to star.

* Quentin Tarantino will direct Uma Thurman in KILL BILL, described as a revenge film, for Miramax and A Band Apart. He is currently writing the script. Production may begin in the spring.

* Jay Russell (MY DOG SKIP) will develop and direct two romantic comedy pics for Warner Bros. INDEPENDENCE, MISSISSIPPI is about a town that secedes from the United States to boost tourism and its economy. James Vanderbilt scripted. The second pic is THE BELLE, by Steven Berger, about a young woman in Atlanta who is obsessed with GONE WITH THE WIND.

* John Killoran's script GOOD AND DEAD, about a guy who fakes his death to escape his overbearing girlfriend, was picked up by Casey Silver's Gone Fishin' Prods.

* Bel-Air Entertainment purchased the Jay Friedman-penned action script DIAMOND DOGS about a reformed jewel thief who is persuaded to take part in possibly the biggest transcontinental robbery ever.

* Aline Brosh-McKenna has written DOMESTIC RELATIONS for producer David Friendly and financier Marc Turtletaub. It's a romantic comedy involving divorce attorneys.

Would it be a cop-out to say that the Tarantino script is my pick of the week. Yeah, probably so. It's just that it's been 3 years since his last script, 6 since PULP FICTION. Ah well... there was a 20-year interval between Terence Malick's DAYS OF HEAVEN and THE THIN RED LINE. Anyway, I personally think there's a lot of interesting potential based on premise alone with the aforementioned scripts this week. GOOD AND DEAD, INDEPENDENCE, MISSISSIPPI, PARIS UNDERGROUND, LOST AND FOUND, THE GIRL NEXT
DOOR, DARKER SAINTS, RAT'S TALE, THE ITALIAN, PREACHING AIN'T EASY, THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS, INTOLERABLE CRUELTY (original draft by the Coens) just to name a bunch. If not "good," they at least sound fun. AMPARO and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK are tied for my pick of the week. One is a forgotten John Huston script, the other is going to be based on the actual Anne Frank diary. Good stuff up ahead.

-- Elston Gunn

(Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, Variety)

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