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Clooney in talks over WB’s ‘West’

The new Caped Crusader in “Batman & Robin,” George Clooney, is in talks with Warner Bros. to join Will Smith in the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed adaptation of the TV series “Wild Wild West.” He’s not yet committed to co-star, but sources say a rewrite of the script is being done specifically for Clooney.

Smith, coming off “Independence Day” and “Men in Black,” signed on months ago to play James T. West, the character created by Robert Conrad in the 1965-70 CBS series. Clooney would play Artemus Gordon, West’s sidekick and a master of disguises. That role was originated by the late Ross Martin.

Trouble is, Artemus was clearly the secondary character in the series. The key to getting Clooney is making the partnership equal. As in the series, the film duo are Secret Service agents assigned by President Ulysses S. Grant — a role Conrad might play — to go undercover in the West.

The film’s being produced by Peters Entertainment. If Clooney ultimately signs on, shooting won’t start until next year. Smith will be busy shooting the Tony Scott-directed “Enemy of the State,” and Clooney will be busy starring with Jennifer Lopez in the Jersey Films adaptation of “Out of Sight,” a novel by Elmore Leonard. Besides, Clooney’s returning for another season of TV’s top-rated series, “ER.”

The original “West” script was by Steve Wilson and Brent Maddock.

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