BLACK MAGIC: Rob Cohen will write and direct a Dimension Films remake of the 1943 RKO film “I Walked With a Zombie” directed by Jacques Tourneur. After concentrating on Frank Sinatra and “The Rat Pack,” Cohen is eager to change focus from Old Blue Eyes to black magic.“When Tourneur made that film, he tried to explore certain themes, but censorship and the difficulty of showing interracial relationships of a white family living in Haiti were beyond what they’d let him do,” said Cohen. “But it’s always been a cult favorite of mine, and I’m one of the few people who made a movie in Haiti with ‘The Serpent and the Rainbow’ with Wes Craven and David Ladd, and there’s a rich and complex culture there.” In Cohen’s version, a young woman is brought to Haiti to be the personal physician of the youngest son of a white family, who’s dying. “She realizes what is happening to him is not explainable through Western medicine. It’s voodoo, and she finds herself in great danger as she tries to cure him.” The sick man, it turns out, was involved in a relationship with a young Haitian woman, but pulled back when she began delving into voodoo, and the story becomes a “Fatal Attraction” with black magic. “There are two sides to voodoo, one closely aligned with Catholicism and West African religions, and another that involves poisons and scary stuff that’s its diametric opposite,” he explained. Cohen was brought into the project by Dimension’s Bob Weinstein and Cary Granat, who are trying to push for remakes of the RKO library after a deal the studio made with RKO’s Ted Hartley and Dina Merrill, who will produce the film with Cohen. For his next film, Cohen will choose from among three candidates. Jeb Stuart is near a deal to rewrite “New York Dive” at Fox 2000 with producer Adam Fields, “Fortune’s Fools” is almost ready at Fox 2000 with a rewrite from Eric Berquist for producers Michael London and Paul Schiff, and the rewrite to the Sony sci-fi film “After the Visitation” is due soon from scribe Kevin Droney for producers Tom Sternberg and Neal Moritz. Cohen is repped by ICM’s Jim Wiatt, Barbara Dreyfuss and Danny Greenberg. VING “MISSION” BLOCKS “SUNDAY”: The postponement of the Oliver Stone football film “On Any Given Sunday” and the crystallization of the “Mission Impossible” sequel has prompted Ving Rhames to reluctantly withdraw from the gridiron film so he can reprise his covert operative role alongside Tom Cruise in the John Woo-directed sequel. Rhames becomes the football pic’s second casualty, after Sean “Puffy” Combs withdrew from making his screen starring debut as a quarterback phenom. While skedding was listed as the reason Combs left the huddle, there were also whispers that Combs’ football abilities were less than convincing. That was not a concern for the physically imposing Rhames, who’s in top shape as he continues to train in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard to prepare to play tragic heavyweight Sonny Liston for the Paramount pic to be directed by William Friedkin. Rhames’ ring time has been somewhat limited, since he’s done back-to-back films, starring with Sean Connery in “Entrapment” and with Nic Cage and Patricia Arquette in the Martin Scorsese film “Bringing Out the Dead.” Rhames is repped by William Morris’ Lee Stollman. U HAS FAITH IN ATHEIST PITCH: Universal has ponied up a mid-six figures for an untitled pitch by Stuart Hazeldine that’s described as a scary thriller about an atheist scientist who’s forced to confront his faith, or lack of it, when he’s plunged into supernatural events. The pic will be produced by Joseph Singer and Paul Brooks. It’s the second significant scripting role for Hazeldine, who adapted the Philip K. Dick story “Paycheck” for Roger Birnbaum’s Caravan Pictures. Hazeldine’s repped by ICM’s Danny Greenberg. ADDICTED TO DIRECTING: Between takes of “NewsRadio,” Andy Dick has been making strides toward becoming a feature director. Under his recently formed banner, Dickly Entertainment, Dick has just completed a series of “image spots” he directed that will be seen on MTV. He wrote and produced the spots, which are in the spirit of the spots that launched Denis Leary’s career. They feature a character called Puberty Jones, played by Madeline Long. Dick’s also directing and starring in “The Andrew Taylor Movie,” a short film about an eccentric fashion designer that will air as part of the upcoming VH-1 Fashion Awards, and which Dick is now trying to fashion as a feature film. The comic, who’s completed an acting role in “Advice From a Caterpillar” and is now filming “Inspector Gadget,” has just signed a record deal with Gloworks Ent. that will feature material from his live show “Andy Dick’s Circus of Freaks,” which debuts Oct. 10 at the Key Club in L.A. and will be brought to Gotham as an Off Broadway show next spring. Dick’s repped by ICM and manager Joel Lubin of Kingsgate Films.
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