Molina Eyes TV deal; Sorvino into battle?

ALFRED MOLINA, WHO went from screen to stage and just got a Tony nomination for the Broadway play “Art,” is eyeing a third medium. He will develop a series at CBS that he’ll star in, with the Eye web eyeing a 1998-99 bow.

Molina first met with CBS topper Les Moonves after the exec saw his eerie role in “Boogie Nights,” in which he played a rich guy who swaggered around his house in his underwear while an Asian houseboy lit firecrackers behind him as Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) prepared to rob him in a drug deal.

No word yet who he’ll be on TV, but the series will be produced by Molina and his manager, Joan Hyler of Hyler Management, who are in talks to draft a writer to hatch either a half hour or hour format.

The versatile Molina’s done both comedy and drama, with films ranging from “Prick Up Your Ears” to “Maverick” and “Species.” He’ll next be seen starring in the Stanley Tucci-directed “The Imposters,” which preems at Cannes. He’ll also be seen this fall starring in Woody Allen’s ensemble film “Celebrity” and co-starring with Mike Myers in the indie film “Meteor.” Molina and Hyler were repped by William Morris’ Jenny Delaney.

CLASH OF THE VIRGIN TITANS? France might be a dangerous place to vacation this summer if you’re a 15th century British conqueror. It looks like the Brits will be battled on two fronts by French armies, as a second biopic takes shape on Joan of Arc, the French teen who galvanized armies against the British in the name of God. Joan was burned at the stake at the age of 19, a gruesome end that prodded the French to drive the British out of their country for good.

You already know that Gaumont’s backing the epic in which director Luc Besson has set his wife and “Fifth Element” star Milla Jovovich to star. Now, Dish hears that Ron Maxwell, the director of “Gettysburg,” is in talks with Oscar winner Mira Sorvino to play the virgin warrior in the film Maxwell wrote and plans to direct this summer around France for a fall, 1999 release.

Reps for Sorvino acknowledged her interest, but said that she’s not attached and that no deal has been done. Maxwell and his fellow producers McKay Daines, Robert Rehme and Pierre Spangler have half of their $50 million budget covered privately, and are trying to close deals with a strong cast around domestic and foreign distribution deals. It seems unlikely to be settled by the time Sorvino arrives on the Croisette this week for the Cannes premiere of her film, “Lulu on the Bridge,” directed by Paul Auster.

FROM RAINBOW ‘FRO TO PRISON WOES: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski have gotten acclaim for creating biopics out of seemingly unlikely subjects that led to films like “Ed Wood,” “People vs. Larry Flynt” and the upcoming Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon,” in which Milos Forman will direct Jim Carrey and Danny DeVito. Now the duo, who are also involved in biopics ranging from Groucho Marx to the Village People, has fixed on a biopic target on the very outermost fringes of fame. They’re supervising scribes Josh Solomon and Darren Romeo on the biopic “The Rainbow Man,” the story of the guy with the multicolored afro who devoted his life to appearing at sporting events carrying the placard “John 3:16.”

The man, Roland Stewart, is cooperating and, though he stood out in a crowd with his sign and hair, he’s now wearing numbers of a different kind. He’s behind bars, serving consecutive life sentences after engaging in a shootout with cops at the LAX Hyatt.

Alexander and Karaszewski, who are repped by Endeavor, make their directing debut together on the MGM comedy they wrote formerly known as “Ballbusted,” with Norm Macdonald. They are developing “Rainbow” to produce and possibly direct.

HOOP PIC DRAFTS ’70S FIXTURES: When filming began Monday on the “New Jersey Turnpikes,” there was a definite ’70s feel on the set. The Universal comedy, about the waning days of the renegade American Basketball Assn. in 1975, is populated by pop culture fixtures of the decade. Robert Conrad has been set as a coach, while “Six Million Dollar Man” Lee Majors and former gridiron great-turned blaxploitation star Jim Brown have also taken roles. The film stars Kelsey Grammer and Orlando Jones, and is being directed by Bryan Buckley from a script by Michael Berg and Hank Perlman.

Dave DeBusschere, the former Knicks star and one-time commissioner of the ABA (the league best known for hatching Julius Erving, the three-point field goal and the red, white and blue basketball), will be consultant and also play a role in the film. Hal Lieberman, who’s producing under the Mostow/Lieberman banner, has been closely monitoring the playoffs, trying to get current NBA stars into the film as they go on vacation. Paul Neesan is exec producer.

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