JACKSON, HUDLIN LAND ‘HYPE’

Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson and helmer Reginald Hudlin are wrapping negotiations to star in and direct, respectively, the sports comedy “The Great White Hype” for 20th Century Fox.

The studio has had continuing talks with Bill Murray to co-star in the Ron Shelton-scripted project.

Set in the world of boxing, “Hype” is in the tradition of Fox’s hit basketball comedy “White Men Can’t Jump,” written and directed by Shelton.

Sources said the studio recently decided to go ahead with the project after Shelton, who had sought to direct, was unable to break away from a previous commitment at Warner Bros. that followed his scripting and helming “Cobb.”

The dilemma reportedly put Shelton between a rock and a hard place, with Warner refusing to let him direct his next project at Fox and Fox seeking to go ahead without him. Shelton declined comment, as did his agent, Geoffrey Sanford.

Sources said “Hype,” which Fox acquired last year from a pitch made by Shelton and a 10-minute short directed by Neil Leifer, could go before the cameras in Las Vegas as soon as mid-May. Leifer was at one time attached to helm the feature.

In the Shelton/Leifer short, Murray starred as a sportswriter.

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