Terry Gilliam is lining up his next two projects. He first plans to direct Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro in Rhino Films and Summit Entertainment’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” based on Hunter Thompson’s novel of the same name.

After that, the director plans to step behind the cameras to helm his pet project “Defective Detective” with Nicolas Cage. The actor will make the Gilliam film his next after “Superman.”

“Fear and Loathing” has had a tortured history. Alex Cox (“Sid and Nancy”) scripted with Tod Davies and plans were for Cox to direct. Cox was then let go from the project, but Rhino still plans to shoot from his script. There is no domestic distributor yet. If all goes well, the plan is to go in July with Rhino’s Steve Nemeth and Laila Nabulsi producing with Patrick Cassavetti.

“Defective Detective,” which was put into turnaround by Paramount about two months ago, is a Richard LaGravenese-scripted fantasy in the vein of “Time Bandits.” The story, created by Gilliam and LaGravenese, follows a New York City cop who is tracking a missing kid and has to enter a “Wizard of Oz”-like fantasy world to get her.

Gilliam has had his eye on the project for years, and producer Scott Rudin has long championed the reteaming of “The Fisher King” writing/directing team of Gilliam and LaGravenese.

Now it looks like Chuck Roven at Atlas Ent., Gary Levinsohn at Cloud Nine Ent., Rudin and Universal Pictures (which produced and distributed the Gilliam-directed “12 Monkeys”) will bring the project to the big screen. The deal is currently being worked out.

Depending on Cage’s schedule — he is pay-or-play on Par’s “Snake Eyes,” and after that is joining with Tim Burton on Warner Bros.’ “Superman” — the project is being eyed for a late spring 1998 start.

Depp’s project “The Brave” is in competition at Cannes this year. Benicio Del Toro just optioned Chris Gerolmo’s “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life” with producer Laura Bickford (Daily Variety, April 21).

Gilliam, an ex-client of recently ankled CAA agent Jack Rapke, is now handled by the agency’s Bryan Lourd. Cage is handled by CAA’s Richard Lovett. Depp is repped by ICM’s Tracey Jacobs. Del Toro is repped by Ilene Feldman.

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