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Week in Review...

  • Prince Chatri Chalerm Yugala (THE LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI) has started shooting NURESUAN, the most expensive Thai production ever. Produced by the prince's Prommitr Production Co., it's wholly funded by the Thai government. The film concerns the life of King Naresuan, who liberated the Siamese from the control of Burma. Born in 1555, he was taken to Burma as a child hostage; there he became acquainted with sword fighting and became a threat to the Burmese empire.

  • David Denneen will direct POWER SURGE, a thriller about a young couple on the run who seek refuge in a country estate, where they take an agoraphobic art dealer as their hostage. Scripted by Dave Warner (GARAGE DAYS) pic is being part-funded by Form, the L.A.-based commercials firm owned by Jesse Dylan. Dan Halsted will exec produce.

  • Brent Bell will direct STAY ALIVE for Wonderland Sound & Vision and Endgame Entertainment about a group of New Orleans teens who play an online horror videogame; as their characters die in the game, the players die also. Shooting begins in March in New Orleans. Pic was scripted by Bell with Matthew Peterman.

  • Kirsten Sheridan will direct AUGUST RUSH for Odyssey Entertainment and and Southpaw Entertainment. It's a modern-day fairy tale that tells the story of a 10-year-old orphan whose musical gifts lead him on a journey to find his parents.

  • Bill Condon (CHICAGO, KINSEY) will direct the movie version of DREAMGIRLS, the thinly veiled story of the rise of Diana Ross and the Supremes during the formative years of Motown Records. The hit Broadway musical about a trio of young black female singers who strive to cross over to the white-dominated pop charts in the early '60s bowed in 1981. The film will retain Tom Eyen's book and lyrics and Henry Krieger's music. Production will begin in late summer or early fall.

  • Swedish directing quintet Traktor has optioned sci-fi thriller script SIPHON by Paul Sloan. It's about an obsessed female detective tracking a serial killer through a sprawling metropolis, using futuristic crime-fighting weapons and tactics, only to discover the suspect may not be human.

  • J.J. Abrams is attached to direct Universal Pictures' THE GOOD SAILOR, a drama being written by Brent Hanley, for producer Chris Moore. On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea. Hundreds went down with the ship, but about 900 sailors were left in shark-infested waters. The ship was never missed, and by the time the survivors were spotted by accident five days later, only 316 remained. The ship's captain was later court-martialed for the incident, the only World War II Navy captain to be court-martialed for losing his ship.

  • Stephen Simon will direct an adaptation of Neal Donald Walsch's CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD for The Spiritual Cinema Circle. The bestseller offers wisdom on how to get by in life while remaining true to oneself and one's spirituality. Eric DelaBarre is writing the script. Production is planned for November in Oregon.

  • Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ("The Simpsons") will write New Line's THE OPTIMIST for Seann William Scott to star in and produce. The script centers on a man who's born without the gene for unhappiness. His perspective changes when he falls in love with a cynical reporter.

  • Sony has purchased the sci-fi script RESURRECTION by scribe Trevor Sands for Mosaic Media to produce. The studio is keeping the story under wraps but the project is described as an imaginative sci-fi action-adventure set in the distant future.

  • Carlos Saura is directing the dance film IBERIA for Morena Films and Wild Bunch. Fusing modern, traditional, operetta (Isaac Albeniz's "Iberia") and flamenco, the film features a litany of dance stars, including Sarah Baras, Manolo Sanlucar and Aida Gomez.

  • Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal will script a remake of TRON for Disney. The original film centered on a computer programmer who gets sucked into the parallel world of a computer program. The new story finds the computer programmer trapped in a cyberworld, so that the film can utilize the Internet.

  • Vadim Perelman (HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG) is set to direct TRUCE, an original screenplay by Stuart Beattie. Set during the early months of WWI, the film is based on the true story of British soldiers who emerged from their foxholes in northern France to defy their commanders, trust their enemy and bring about a one-day Christmas truce at the deadliest spot on earth. Apartment 3B Prods. produces the film. Participant Pictures will finance the project with Warner Independent Pictures.

  • Peter Hedges (ABOUT A BOY) is in negotiations to adapt the Jonathan Tropper novel EVERYTHING CHANGES for Columbia Pictures and producers Wendy Finerman and Tobey Maguire. Book concerns a twentysomething man who's on the verge of marrying the perfect girl when he undergoes a life crisis brought on by his feelings for his best friend's widow and the sudden arrival of his estranged, Viagra-popping father.

  • Sony Pictures Entertainment has made a deal for Alvin Sargent to write the third installment of SPIDER-MAN, with an option to write the fourth movie as well. He has already begun work on SPIDER-MAN 3, which has a tentative release date of May 2007.

  • Brian Helgeland will adapt Darren Shan's best-selling children's series CIRQUE DU FREAK into a feature for Universal. He'll adapt the first three books of the series and also will executive produce. The book series revolves around a youth named Darren Shan who attends an illegal freak show. By the end, he has agreed to serve as a vampire's assistant to save his best friend's life.

  • Anthony Minghella will write, direct and produce BREAKING AND ENTERTING for Miramax Films. The film will start production in April. Ensemble drama follows contemporary Londoners from a variety of ethnic and class backgrounds whose lives intersect in the seedy inner-city area of Kings Cross. Title reportedly refers to the film's central theme of theft, both criminal and emotional. Minghella and partner Sydney Pollack will produce via their Mirage Enterprises. Minghella is also working on his previously announced adaptation of Liz Jensen's novel THE NINTH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX for Miramax. He plans to shoot that pic toward the end of this year.

    - Elston Gunn
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