‘Dog’ days ahead for Sorbo

NEW YORK — Universal has cornered the market on Kevin Sorbo. The actor, who toplines the U hit series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and makes his feature-starring debut Aug. 29 in the $30 million actioner “Kull the Conqueror,” will star in “Black Dog” for the studio. Kevin Hooks is set to direct and production will start in September. For his work, Sorbo will be paid a shade under $3 million, sources said.

Sorbo will play a troubled ex-con who’s set up by the mob to drive a truck filled with illegal weapons. With his family in danger, he’s chased cross-country by mob hijackers as well as the feds. The film, scripted by Scott Sturgeon, Dan Vining and William Mickelberry, is produced by Rafaella De Laurentiis and Peter Saphier.

The project was a high priority for U execs Casey Silver, Marc Platt and Lenny Kornberg because they wanted to keep Sorbo in the studio fold. Since he shoots “Hercules” in New Zealand, weather concerns make the crew take a hiatus in mid-September, when the film will start production. The studio had been looking hard to get the right director, and finally zeroed in on Hooks, whose action credits include “Passenger 57.” Hooks recently directed “Glory and Honor” for TNT with Delroy Lindo.

Sorbo’s repped by ICM’s Nick Styne and Lou Pitt, managed by Beverlee Dean and lawyered by David Feldman and Jake Bloom. Hooks is repped by UTA’s Dan Aloni, and managed by Alan Greenspan and Tracy Underwood.

ONE THING’ ABOUT TO COME TRUE: “One True Thing,” a Carl Franklin-directed adaptation of New York Times scribe Anna Quindlen’s novel, has garnered hot and heavy interest from several studios after Fox 2000 passed on the drama. Franklin took it there first, where he has a deal, but now producers Harry Ufland and Jesse Beaton are down to a couple of aspirants that includes Universal, with a deal expected by week’s end.

The package is intriguing, if only because of the actresses who are poised to star. “Jerry Maguire” star Renee Zellweger and Meryl Streep both seem ready to take part. It’s the story of a daughter who comes home to help her father care for her mother, who’s terminally ill with cancer. A traumatic incident hastens the mother’s demise. Franklin (“Devil in a Blue Dress”) hopes to start work on it immediately. Streep, by the way, is booked to star with Michael Gambon in “Dancing at Lughnasa,” filming in August in Ireland.

BUSEY’S BACK: Gary Busey, who was shelved when he had a cancerous tumor removed from his sinuses, is coming back to work. He’s accepted the role of a cop in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” the Terry Gilliam-directed adaptation of the Hunter Thompson book starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. Busey, who’ll soon be seen in TNT’s “Rough Riders,” will then do the indie pic “Deadly Winter.” Busey’s repped by ICM’s Toni Howard and Jack Gilardi.

DISHINGS: Paramount’s not giving up on the long-in-development “Dexterity.” An offer’s out to team husband and wife Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette. … Paramount’s also considering picking up free agent pic “Mr. 3,000,” with Richard Gere starring as an aging ballplayer hanging in to get 3,000 hits.

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