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Week in Review...


by Elston Gunn

  • Universal Pictures purchased the life rights of a sushi chef-turned-matchmaker and brought on Pablo Zachai to adapt the screenplay. Kennedy/Marshall will produce. It's about Mamoru Omae, a successful Tokyo chef who lost everything including the love of his life when the Japanese economy tanked. He ended up running a hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurant where he began getting involved in the love lives of his patrons. The pic uses the real-life scenario as a jumping-off point and takes the chef to New York.
  • Ed Zwick is in talks to direct THE TALISMAN, based on the fantasy novel from Stephen King and Peter Straub, for DreamWorks/Universal. Ehren Kruger wrote the screenplay.
  • Mike Reiss ("The Simpsons") has sold his spec, THE WIFE'S AWAY, to DreamWorks. Story centers on a bored husband who gets more than he bargained for when his wife leaves him home alone for the weekend.
  • Writing duo Jonathan Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE) have set up their first producing project, OPEN BAR, at New Line Cinema. It's described as a comedy about two friends who fulfill a lifelong dream of owning the bar that they used to sneak into in high school. Josh Heald wrote the script.
  • Director Guillermo del Toro and producers Lawrence Gordon, Mike Richardson and Lloyd Levin are all back on board for HELLBOY 2. Mike Mignola will develop the new story with del Toro.
  • Larry Bishop (KILL BILL VOL. 2) is writing and will direct HELL RIDE. Bishop will produce with Quentin Tarantino. The movie will star Bishop, Tarantino and Michael Madsen as Pistolero, Comanche and the Gent and the deadly unfinished business between them. The movie is expected to begin shooting in August or September.
  • Casey Silver Prods. is developing the animated BIG, BAD WOLF based on an idea from animation specialists Wild Brain. Casey Silver has hired scribe Mike Glock to pen the project, which will retell the Little Red Riding Hood story from the wolf's point of view. Glock is developing the project based on the idea that the wolf was framed.
  • Paramount picked up Tim Herlihy's pitch THE FIGHTING QUAKERS for Happy Madison to produce. The project centers on an up and coming Philadelphia lawyer who, wanting to schmooze potential clients, joins "The Fighting Quakers," a storied National Guard unit that has devolved into a social club for the city's wealthy elite. Complications ensue when the regiment is called to active duty for the first time in 100 years, and sent to Eastern Europe.
  • Chris Crutcher's best-selling teen novel STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BYNES is being turned into a movie by the producing triad of Joan Singleton, Tina Ritt and Ralph Singleton. Tina Ritt, daughter of helmer Martin Ritt, will direct the feature, which is being adapted by Joan Singleton. The book follows two unattractive kids who team up against the world. When Eric fears that he may lose his friendship with Sarah, he elects to "stay fat for Sarah Byrnes."
  • Roel Reine will direct the high-concept thriller THE DUELIST for Hyde Park Entertainment, Jan de Bont's Blue Tulip Prods. and Epsilon Motion Pictures. Pic, penned by Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie, the tale centers on a Wall Street analyst who joins a powerful modern-day dueling society. When darker elements of the organization surface, he must fight for his family's survival.
  • Roland Joffe is set to shoot MARLOWE, a fictionalized biopic of Christopher Marlowe, the British dramatist believed by some to have been Shakespeare's ghostwriter. The project supposes that Marlowe did not die at age 28 but instead vanished from London -- where he was thought to have been stabbed to death in a bar brawl -- and fled to Italy. There he found intrigue, romance and also started writing Shakespeare's plays.
  • Scott Elliott (A MAP OF THE WORLD) will direct Sarah Jessica Parker in THE GOOD LIFE, adapted from Keith Scribner's novel, which is based on the true story of a middle-class New Jersey couple's botched kidnapping of the president of Exxon.
  • Mark Ruffalo will direct Killer Films' drama provisionally titled SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS. Scripted by Chris Thornton, who also will star with Nicolas Cage, the autobiographical story centers on a wheelchair-bound Los Angeles scratch DJ with faith-healing capabilities who is unable to heal himself.
  • Agnieska Holland is set to direct ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY, adapted by Matthew Weiss from Sydney Taylor's children's books. Turn-of-the-century stories center on a Jewish family with five young daughters on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
  • Tim Blake Nelson is set to direct SEASONS OF DUST, a Depression-era Dust Bowl road movie/love story set in Oklahoma, scheduled to shoot next spring
  • David Gordon Green is attached to adapt and direct Brad Land's memoir GOAT, about violence, masculinity, brotherhood and fraternity hazing.
  • Daniel Bernstein and Ned Zeman have written MISSING PERSONS for Killer Films and Cheyenne Enterprises, based on Zeman's Vanity Fair article about the Bobby Durst case, in which the eccentric real estate developer fell for a working-class tenant in one of his buildings and allegedly killed her.
  • Paul Verhoeven has committed to next direct BLACK BOOK for producer Joni Sighvatsson and San Fu Maltha of Fu Works. It's a World War II thriller about Jewish young woman Rachel Steinn who joins the Dutch resistance while collaborating with the Nazis. Project is expected to star Carice van Houten and Halina Reijn.
  • Guillermo del Toro's next film will be the Spanish-lingo pic THE PAN'S LABYRINTH, a thriller set in 1942 Spain to be produced by Jorge Vergara and Alfonso Cuaron's Anhelo Prods. The film starts pre-production in September and shoots likely in Argentina.
  • Luis Mandoki will direct the Spanish-lingo pic CASAS DE CARTON in Mexico and is producing with Lawrence Bender and Alejandro Soberon Kuri. It's a drama based on the true story of an 11-year-old boy and his family in a country torn by civil war. Pic, penned by tyro scribe and actor Oscar Torres, is based on his own experiences as a child living in El Salvador.
  • Argentine helmer Fabian Bielinsky (NINE QUEENS) will soon direct Ricardo Darin in the psychological thriller EL AURA about a taxidermist with delusions about planning the perfect crime. Bielinsky plans to start shooting the pic in Argentina's remote region of Patagonia in October.
  • Blake McCormick sold his comedy script GHOST OF 21 to 20th Century Fox. It's about a 30-year-old pillar of the community who's on the verge of being married. His world is turned upside down when his old college buddies reappear to hold him to a promise he made not to get hitched.
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Spyglass have entered into talks to mount a BRUCE ALMIGHTY sequel based on the Bobby Florsheim and Josh Stolberg original spec script THE PASSION OF THE ARK..
  • Lev L. Spiro will direct the teen comedy QUEEN LARA. Nicholas Thurkettle penned the contempo adaptation of Shakespeare's KING LEAR with Room 9 Entertainment set to produce.
  • Stephen Woolley will direct the murder mystery THE WILD AND WYCKED WORLD OF BRIAN JONES, the charismatic guitarist who founded the Rolling Stones but was fired in 1969 and found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool a few weeks later. The official verdict was accidental death. But the screenplay, by Neal Purvis and Rob Wade, claims Jones was killed by Frank Thoroughgood, the builder who was working on his house.
  • Ibon Cormenzana will direct VICTORY: ANONYMOUS, a contempo suspense-thriller set in New York and Mexico.
  • Eugene Mira is developing FORTUNE AND GLORY, set in 1991 in the Spanish coastal tourist trap of Benidorm.
  • Nick Hamm (GODSEND) will direct a modern movie inspired by Anton Chekov's THREE SISTERS for Spice Factory, Movision and Arclight.
  • Walter Salles will direct the Portuguese-language film LINHA DO PASE about four brothers who try to break into the world of soccer. Their paths cross continually during the film. Pic will shoot in 2005, after Salles completes DARK WATER.
  • Fernando Meirelles will direct INTOLERANCE - THE SEQUEL, a film about globalization set in six or seven different countries with apparently different plot strands that form part of the same story. Merielles will work on this after he finishes THE CONSTANT GARDENER.
  • Stephen Hopkins (THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS) has committed to direct ME AGAIN for Beryl Vertue's Hartswood Films. The amnesia thriller has an original screenplay by Vertue's son-in-law, Steven Moffat (BBC's "Coupling").
  • Mike Figgis will direct an adaptation of Jennifer Belle's novel GOING DOWN, which Julia Stiles is in negotiations to star in and produce for Roberta and Chris Hanley's Muse Prods. It's about an unshockable drama student at NYU who, finding she's short of cash, decides to pay her way by finding a madam and becoming a prostitute. Figgis penned the adaptation with Roberta Hanley and Karen Nichols.
  • Steve Shainberg (SECRETARY) will direct MUSIC FOR TORCHING, based on the A.M. Homes novel, a suburban relationship drama about disenchantment and disillusionment with tragic consequences. Buck Henry is writing the script.
  • Molly Hassell is penning BECOMING MADAME MAO, based on the novel by Anchee Min, about the life of the wife of Mao Zhedong.
  • Julie Delpy is writing and will direct a feature based on the true story of Countess Bathory. She'll star in the true tale of the countess, one of the world's first known serial killers, who believed her beauty was enhanced by bathing in the blood of female virgins.
  • Fernando Leon de Aranoa (MONDAYS IN THE SUN) will write and is expected to direct LEOPARD IN THE SUN, Laura Restrepo's contemporary novel above life in her native Colombia. It details a vicious war between two families made wealthy by crime and clandestine business.
  • MGM grabbed Margaret Heidenry's romantic comedy pitch LOVE AND MARRIAGE for Dylan Sellers to produce. It's a satire in which an engaged couple ends up reversing roles as their wedding day soon approaches.
  • Karen Essex is rewriting Columbia Pictures' King Kamehameha project, BATTLE FOR PARADISE, for Original Film and director Rob Cohen. The Rock is attached to star.
  • Luz & Imaginacao has teamed up with Walter Salles' VideoFilmes to co-produce thriller THE YELLOW LINE and period drama CINEMEIRO. J. Emilio Rondeau will co-produce and direct THE YELLOW LINE about a former hitman forced to return to the underworld to rescue his kid sister, who has followed in his footsteps. CINEMEIRO, to be shot in Japanese, Portuguese and English, follows a traveling film company that must decide whether it should screen to the Japanese community in Brazil a newsreel documenting Japan's defeat in World War II.
  • Geoffrey Wright (ROMPER STOMPER) will direct NIGHTFALL, a sci-fi thriller for Spice Factory and Mushroom Pictures. Pic is about a group of backpackers terrorized by an alien.
  • Dick Clement (THE COMMITMENTS) and Alan Shearman will write MUTT, a live-action romantic caper pic that starts shooting this summer on location in the U.K. Set in modern-day Scotland and London, it's the story of a dog abandoned in the big city who "auditions" new owners. On a whim, he secures two new owners who are destined to meet and fall in love, but Mutt's mission is to keep them apart and keep his doggie dreams of double food, double walks and double love intact.
  • Kim Ki-duk will next make 3-IRON for Cineclick Asia and Happinet about a homeless young man who rescues an abducted girl.
  • Kevin McNally (DE-LOVELY) is developing STONE ME, a biopic of iconic Brit comedian Tony Hancock for himself to star.
  • Belgian director Alain Berliner (MA VIE EN ROSE) will direct SATAN'S LEE, based on a screenplay by Avy Korine, brother of Harmony Korine. It's the story of "two young brothers who fight violently for the love of their parents following a tragedy in the family."
  • Director C.S. Leigh and music legend and Andy Warhol associate John Cale are developing EVERYBODY HAD A CAMERA about Warhold's Factory years. The pic will focus on a seven-year period in the life of Warhol's New York studio, each year seen through the eyes of seven Warhol cohorts.
  • John Woo is in talks with Universal to direct SPY HUNTER, a pic based loosely on the 1980s arcade vidgame created by Midway.
  • Maverick Films has acquired the pitch BETTER THAN SEX by Varina Bleil and Betsy Landis. Pitch is based on the novel SLOW HANDS by Lynne Kaufman. Story concerns two very different sisters who turn their sorority house into a spa that caters to the "special needs" of women.
  • Fox 2000 picked up TWICE UPON A TIME, Susan Brightbill's romantic dramedy spec script about a divorced couple who slowly fall back in love and the impact it has on their children.
  • Jane Campion, Robert Altman, Gaspar Noe, Jan Kounen, Tran Anh Hung, Shinya Tsukamoto and Wim Wenders will contribute short segments to 8, a feature film being made in conjunction with the United Nations Development Program. Each filmmaker will treat one of eight millennium development goals that the UNDP has targeted to achieve by 2015.
  • Paramount has decided to put an extra-terrestrial twist on the buddy comedy, acquiring film rights to the trilogy of children's books ALIENS FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER for Jordan Kerner to produce. Steve Carpenter will pen an adaptation of the first book in the series, ALIENS FOR BREAKFAST, which was written by Jonathan Etra and Stephanie Spinner. Story revolves around a curmudgeonly alien space cop sent to Earth to find an escaped alien convict and landing in the apartment of an unsuspecting junior high school principal. The duo are forced to become partners and capture the convict alien.
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment and producer Laurence Mark grabbed SAMMY, a romantic comedy spec script by Delia Ephron with Reese Witherspoon attached to star. Mark will produce with Ephron. Witherspoon's Type A Prods. also will be involved in a producing capacity. Witherspoon would play a woman who can sense what animals are thinking. She crosses paths with a man who claims to have the same relationship with dead people.
  • Mick Davis next will direct DORIAN for Bauer Martinez Studios. Pic, budgeted at about $15 million, is expected to start shooting in October in Romania and London. Supernatural thriller is a loose modern-day adaptation of THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY.
  • John Woo, Ridley Scott, Stefano Veneruso, Katia Lund, Mehdi Charef and Emir Kusturica are attached to participate in a uniquely ambitious multinational production called ALL THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN, which is being produced by MK Film Prods. and co-produced by RAI Cinema. It's composed of seven segments, each representative of a geographical region. Each of the seven segments will delve into the hurdles and plights of respective child protagonists facing the vicissitudes of life in various parts of the world.
  • Aurora Entertainment Corp. is set to start back-to-back shooting from June 7 in Romania on the fourth and fifth sequels to the RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD series, with Ellory Elkayem attached to direct and Peter Coyote headlining. Titled RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 4: NECROPOLIS and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 5: RAVE FROM THE GRAVE, the films were written by William Butler and Aaron Strongoni.
  • Larry Clark will direct WASSUP ROCKERS from his own script about a group of largely Hispanic teenagers who, instead of conforming to the hip-hop culture of their neighborhood, ride skateboards, listen to punk rock and wear their clothes tight. Constantly harassed, they take buses to Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Hollywood, where they skate and catch the attention of the local rich girls, inevitably leading to trouble with parents, police and boyfriends.
  • Sergei Bodrov is prepping MONGOL for Kazakh Film about the early years of Genghis Khan. Bodrov is also writing the script.
  • Charles Sturridge will direct an adaptation of Eric Knight's 1940 novel LASSIE, set on the eve of World War II, about an impoverished family in England forced to sell their beloved dog Lassie to a wealthy duke, who takes her to Scotland. Lassie escapes and sets out on a 500-mile journey to get back to her family.
  • Adrian Caetano will next direct CAUDILLO for Wanda Films and OK Films about a powerful politician who passes on the family's political dynasty to his son.
  • Oxide Pang (THE EYE) is taking a co-director and producer credit with Mona Nahm on THE REMAKER, a drama-thriller about a man who survives a car accident to discover he can dream the future, and is haunted by what seem to be the sins of a past life.
  • Anjelica Huston will direct the World War II drama THE WHITE ROSE to star Christina Ricci. Based on Allegra Huston's screenplay, pic tells the story of a group of dissident German college students known as the White Rose. Headed by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, the group distributed leaflets that challenged the government's war claims and attempted to awaken their fellow Germans to the atrocious realities of what Nazism meant.
  • Icelandic helmer Dagur Kari (NOI ALBINOI) is now shooting GROWN UP PEOPLE in Copenhagen. It tells the story of a graffiti-artist for hire, a sort of a modern day cupid, who sprays amorous messages across the city.
  • Jon Amiel is set to direct DECOY, based on the novel by Tony Strong, at New Regency for producers Arnold and Anne Kopelson. Shawn Ryan ("The Sheild") is working on a rewrite. Production will begin in November. It's set in the world of fidelity decoys, where women test the resolve of their mates by hiring beautiful strangers to come on to them. One female decoy becomes involved in an assignment that involves deceit and murder.


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