Dish; Talent agency feeding frenzy hits fever pitch

AGENCIES ARE A-SCRAMBLIN’: Talk of the prospective break-up of InterTalent Agency also prompted a flood of phone calls all across town between other Hollywood agencies trying to lure each other’s folks. As William Morris prexy Jerry Katzman acknowledged, “Everything is in play,” or, as a smaller agency exec observed: “There’s a definite feeding frenzy on.” Rumors were flying that merger talks between William Morris and Triad may be back on, to which Katzman responded, “We’re talking with everybody. Everybody’s talking to everybody and what the final configuration of all this will be, I don’t know.” WILD, WILD WEST: John McTiernan’s western saga “Bitter Root,” originally in development at Cinergi, has been set up at Paramount Pix as a future directorial outing for the rugged guy, who wrote the project years ago. “Terms of Endearment” scribe Larry McMurtry has been lassoed to polish the script, about the Cavalry chasing an Indian tribe. Sources say Paramount is anxious to put “Bitter Root” on the fast trail since there are a number of other westerns kicking up dust around town, including Walter Hill’s “Geronimo” at Columbia, where McTiernan is busy steering the pre-production of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s upcoming big-screen venture “The Last Action Hero.”

YOUNG FEMMES ON THE RANGE: Columbia Pix is negotiating for an old-fashioned western of its own–a rough and tough female “Young Guns” dubbed “Outlaws,” penned by Boaz Yakin (“The Rookie”) and Cassidy Heydt. Attached producer Denise DeNovi brought the property to the Sony prairie. The story follows the adventures of a gang of five bank-robbin’, train-robbin’ (and some prostitutin’) female outlaws who elude the all-male pack of land barons, the sheriff and the posse who are attempting to chase them down. Sources say while Columbia is definitely high on the idea, the studio is not only barking over dollars and cents but the fact that Heydt wants to co-star as one of the five bandits. The writer, who’s done some TV acting gigs, reportedly co-wrote “Outlaws” with definite intentions to be before the camera’s eye. Heydt is scheduled to meet with Columbia exex this week to hash it out. AVEC TIM: Meanwhile, DeNovi and her ex-producing partner Tim Burton have a blinking green light at Touchstone on their long-in-the-works movie property “Cabin Boy,” a project the “Batman” boy’s former William Morris scouts help trail-blaze before the director flew the coup. While Burton had momentarily considered directing the fantasy comedy, the script’s author, Adam Resnick, will get a shot at helming his first feature. Chris Elliott, who worked with Resnick on Fox’s “Get a Life” last year, will star in the movie, described as a very Tim Burton-esque quirky adventure about a spoiled and pampered prep school grad who sets sail from Maine to his father’s hotel in Hawaii and meets some crusty old sailors and other colorful characters along the way. TRYING TO FIRM UP A LEADING LADY: We hear there is a short list of candidates for the role of Tom Cruise’s wife in Sydney Pollack’s “The Firm.” The long-in-the-planning-stages project is finally moving forward now that Robert Towne has delivered a rewrite to Paramount that Brandon Tartikoff, et al., supposedly love. The frontrunners for the part reportedly are Robin Wright, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Bridget Fonda.

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