WB, Gibson dicker on Dickens pic

Nava will helm classic tale

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. is negotiating to make an adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel “A Tale of Two Cities” with Mel Gibson starring and Gregory Nava directing.

The film will be produced by Paula Weinstein and Barry Levinson’s Baltimore Spring Creek Pictures. Several writers have toiled on the script, but the current scribe is John Sweet.

Gibson, who’s coming off the summer hit “Lethal Weapon 4,” has been looking for a picture to star in since deciding to delay production of his next directing effort, “Fahrenheit 451,” until next May.

Though Gibson met with Nava before he left for a recent vacation, WB doesn’t yet have a deal despite its desire to match Gibson with a director the studio is grooming for big things.

Talks have been ongoing, but hit a snag early last week, and Gibson could conceivably walk away from the film. But Gibson, who has fit comfortably into period pieces “Braveheart” and “Hamlet,” has been interested in the Dickens tale for some time. He considered doing it last year when Chinese director Chen Kaige (“Farewell My Concubine”) was attached.

High on Nava

WB is keen on Nava, who delivered a surprise hit for the studio with the Jennifer Lopez starrer biopic “Selena.” His latest film, the Frankie Lymon biopic “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” opens Aug. 28 and is generating strong advance buzz with a cast that includes Larenz Tate, Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox and Lela Rochon.

Gibson, meanwhile, once again delivered the goods for WB on “Lethal Weapon 4.” The film has grossed $120 million domestically so far, and has exceeded that in foreign grosses while still broadening into overseas territories.

Weinstein has been trying to make “A Tale of Two Cities” for several years. An earlier version, with Terry Gilliam directing and Liam Neeson starring with Madeleine Stowe, was shelved over budget concerns.

If Gibson says yes, he would start work on the pic in the fall, leaving him plenty of time to complete preparations to helm the Terry Hayes-scripted adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s bookburning classic “Fahrenheit 451,” produced by Icon Prods. partners Gibson and Bruce Davey, with Storyline Entertainment’s Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Gibson likes directing

Gibson would prefer to only direct “451,” and he has been trying to find a star of his caliber to play the lead role of the firefighter who questions his role as burner of books, looking to the likes of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. But Gibson could ultimately star in the film himself, as he did with “Braveheart,” which would be fine with the studio since Gibson offers considerable starpower in the domestic and international marketplaces.

Gibson’s repped by ICM’s Ed Limato.

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