BAY SET FOR ‘ARMAGEDDON’

Alien invasions. Erupting volcanos. And now asteroids destroying the Earth.

With Michael Bay moving in to direct Touchstone Pictures’ “Arma-geddon,” there are now three disaster projects, set up at different studios, concerning comets on a collison course with Earth: The comet race is now on between Paramount/DreamWorks, 20th Century Fox and Touchstone.

The most recent project is the sci-fi actioner “Armageddon,” which was written by Jonathan Hensleigh (“Virus”) for producers Bay and Gale Anne Hurd. Hurd just produced “Dante’s Peak,” which will beat 20th Century Fox’s “Volcano” to the nation’s theaters. Hensleigh would exec produce the project that Bay is expected to direct as his next. The project is about asteroids on a collison course with Earth. The project is slated for a May start.

Leder set

DreamWorks, meanwhile, has recently hired Mimi Leder to direct “Deep Impact” for producers David Brown, Richard Zanuck and Steven Spielberg. The project, which was inspired by the 1951 George Pal film “When Worlds Collide” and by Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Hammer of God,” is about the discovery of a comet that is on a crash course with Earth. Bruce Joel Rubin scripted. It’s not clear when DreamWorks plans to get the project before the cameras. Leder just directed “The

Peacemaker” for DreamWorks.

Meanwhile, Peter Hyams (“The Relic”) is writing an untitled project for James Cameron to produce about the same kind of disaster facing Earth. Hyams has been quietly working away on a script after inking a deal that passed under the radar late last fall. Cameron and Hyams have been wanting to work together since they tried to collaborate on “Godzilla” for Sony. Hyams, who is finishing the script, would direct the project. No start date is yet targeted.

Small-screen competish

And just as the studios are hunkering down to work on their projects, along comes a four-hour miniseries that is in the works from NBC called “Asteroids.” That project, about asteroids on a collison course with Earth, will bow later this season.

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