News Bites: Wednesday, April 21st 2004

By Garth Franklin Wednesday April 21st 2004 11:47PM

Jack Greenberg Pic: "New Line Cinema has hired "The West Wing" writer-producers Lawrence O'Donnell and Paul Redford to pen a script based on the story of Jack Greenberg, the attorney who argued in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation of public schools was unconstitutional..." (more info). Mistmantle Chronicles: "Miramax has acquired U.S. publishing and film rights to "Mistmantle Chronicles," a forthcoming trilogy of children's books by Brit author Margi McAllister. First book in the series, "Urchin of the Riding Stars," is due for publication in spring 2005 by Miramax Books in the U.S. and by Bloomsbury in the U.K., with the second and third books due in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Series is about a group of animals, including squirrels, otters, hedgehogs and moles, living on an island hidden in mist..." (more info). PU239: "Scott Burns, who wrote "The Informant" for Steven Soderbergh, will make his feature-directing bow with "PU239" at United Artists. Soderbergh's Section 8 Prods. will produce the pic. Production is expected to begin this fall on locations in Eastern Europe. Written by Burns, "PU239" is set in post-Glasnost Russia. After a nuclear facility technician has an accident, he travels to Moscow in search of work and finds himself involved with the city's low-level mobsters..." (more info). Surveillance: "In her first picture since 1993's "Boxing Helena," Jennifer Lynch will direct the supernatural cop thriller "Surveillance" for Romano/Shane Prods. Budgeted under $10 million, "Surveillance" is the story of an FBI agent who encounters three would-be victims of a serial killer, all of whom have very different stories of their experiences..." (more info). The Heartbreak Kid: "Barry Sonnenfeld has fallen for DreamWorks' "The Heartbreak Kid" and is closing a deal to direct the film. The romantic comedy is a loosely inspired remake of the 1972 pic, written by Neil Simon and directed by Elaine May. Story is about a man who hastily weds a local girl whom he thinks is perfect -- until he falls in love with another girl during the honeymoon..." (more info). The Sisters: "Maria Bello, Mary Stuart Masterson and Erika Christensen are starring in "The Sisters," a contempo feature adaptation of Anton Chekov's drama "Three Sisters," now in production in Eugene, Ore. The ensemble cast also includes Eric McCormack, Elizabeth Banks, Tony Goldwyn, Alessandro Nivola, Chris O'Donnell and Rip Torn..." (more info). 21 Jumpstreet: "Original Film is boarding Paramount Pictures' big-screen adaptation of the TV series "21 Jump Street." Original's Neal Moritz will produce "21 Jump Street" with Stephen J. Cannell and Douglas Rosen, while Original's Tania Landau will executive produce. The project is out to writers..." (more info). Donnie Dark: Director's Cut: ""Donnie Darko" is getting a new theatrical release. Newmarket Films, which originally released the film, is unveiling a director's cut at the Seattle Film Festival on May 29. The new version will have 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage, new visual effects, and new music. After the festival, Newmarket plans to release the film theatrically in Seattle before moving into other markets later in the summer..." (more info). Fat Albert: "Aaron Carter, Dania Ramirez, Nick Zano, Derek Watkins and Alice Greczyn have joined the cast of Fox's live-action "Fat Albert" for helmer Joel Zwick. Shooting in Los Angeles on the Paramount Pictures back lot, the project is based on the stand-up comedy monologues of Bill Cosby about his childhood in Philadelphia and the cartoon "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids"..." (more info). Hawaiian Dick: "New Line Cinema has picked up the comic book "Hawaiian Dick" to develop as a starring vehicle for Johnny Knoxville. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift have been brought on board to adapt. Set in 1953, "Dick" tells the story of a down-on-his-luck big-city detective who is exiled to Hawaii. While there, he gets involved in a kidnapping case of a local island girl who turns up dead but won't stay that way..." (more info). Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants: "Alexis Bledel, one of TV's "Gilmore Girls," has nabbed a starring role in "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," Alcon Entertainment's adaptation of the best-selling book. Ken Kwapis will direct. Penned by Delia Ephron from the novel by Ann Brashares, the coming-of-age story revolves around four friends during the first summer they spend apart..." (more info).RIP Tim Burstall: MSN reports that Film director Tim Burstall was an innovator who helped kick-start Australia's film industry when it was flagging, an industry leader said. Burstall, a writer, producer and director who helped spawn groundbreaking Australian films including Stork, Alvin Purple, Eliza Fraser and The Last of the Knucklemen, died in Melbourne early Monday after a stroke, aged 76. Click the link to learn more about this film pioneer who'll be greatly missed. Amityville Horror: Andrew Douglas looks set to direct and is looking for June start date. Casting is underway. Flash Gordon: Cinescape indicates Ron Shushett will be penning the new Stephen Sommers-helmed take on the classic character. Kill Bill, Vol. 2: A script to film comparison is up at Screenwriter's Voice. Meanwhile, a special Aussie screening with Tarantino in attendance will take place in two weeks, see Sydney Opera House for details. Popeye: The first image from the new CG production is up at Animated News. The Pink Panther: Several roles have been filled - William Abatie as 'Bizu', Henry Czerny as 'Yuri', Stephen Rowe as 'Sykorian', Roger Rees as 'Laroque' and Kristin Chenoweth as 'Cherie'. The Simpsons (TV): USA Today reports that Fox is considering cancelling The Simpsons. The voice-cast has walked out in order to demand more money. Fox has enough episodes to bring it through January 2005. They're also considering re-casting the show. The Village: On April 26th at 8pm US-EST, M. Night Shyamalan will host an ABC Network telecast of "The Sixth Sense," during which he will present an exclusive, world premiere trailer of his next film. Thanks to 'Dust Bunny', 'Clayton', 'Victor' & 'FanHalen'