Zellweger weds ‘Bachelor’; ‘Dream’ denied

“BACHELOR” PAD: “One True Thing” star Renee Zellweger is close to joining Chris O’Donnell in “The Bachelor,” New Line’s remake of the Buster Keaton silent comedy “Seven Chances.” The film will be directed by Gary Sinyor (“Leon the Pig Farmer”). Shooting begins in December.

O’Donnell will play a terminal bachelor who learns he’ll inherit $120 million from his grandfather if he marries by his 33rd birthday. He finds out the day before that milestone, and Zellweger will play his long-suffering romantic interest who becomes suspicious of his sudden enthusiasm.

The script’s by Steve Cohen, who took the unorthodox step of turning a silent film into a spec, making the rights deal just before the original film went into public domain. New Line paid low-seven figures to win it for producer Lloyd Segan, with O’Donnell left a bridesmaid in a Warner Bros. bid.

But he proved a persistent suitor, and George Street Pictures, the production shingle he runs with Bing Howenstein, soon became a producer as they worked with Segan to tailor the vehicle for O’Donnell the actor. Accustomed to accepting or turning down script offers as a sought-after actor, O’Donnell got a taste of the other side of the business.

“It’s great to find fresh material before anyone’s seen it, instead of scripts given me by my agent which bear the paw prints of other actors,” O’Donnell said. “But it’s something to work a year and a half on a film, see it get greenlit, then get a good director, and then try to find the right actress. We met with Renee, and I knew right away she was this character, and that started a three-month courtship trying to get her.”

O’Donnell the producer also knew Zellweger has no shortage of offers, and the “Jerry Maguire” star is very selective. “That made it most satisfying when she finally said yes,” he said. “This whole thing has given me a great appreciation of what you have to go through to put together a project and attract stars to it.”

The film was shepherded by New Line exec Donna Langley and prexy Mike De Luca. Zellweger was repped by CAA and managed by John Carrabino.

NIGHTMARISH ENDING: The movie adaptation of the musical “Dreamgirls” will remain a pipe dream for now. Warner Bros., which had director Joel Schumacher and producer David Geffen readying the Michael Bennett-directed hit musical for a spring start, has abruptly shelved the pic.

The poor performance of WB’s Frankie Lymon movie “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” is rumored to be a major reason WB execs were reluctant to commit to a budget near $30 million. After all, both Tina Andrews-scripted pics are period music pieces, with “Dreamgirls” the thinly veiled story of the rise of Diana Ross and the Supremes under Berry Gordy Jr.

WB execs, who’ve lately embraced the notion of partnering on pics to share risk, had trouble laying off this one, because of the belief that pics with mostly minority casts usually don’t perform overseas.

WB denied “Dreamgirls” was shelved, saying only that it was postponed for a creative overhaul. But it’s surely a disappointment for Schumacher, who has been a major hit-maker for WB with two “Batman” pics, “The Client” and “A Time to Kill,” and envisioned this as his next film, with singing sensation Lauryn Hill ready to play the conniving diva Deena Jones; songstress Kelly Price eyed for the showstopping role of Effie; and Don Cheadle to play singer James “Thunder” Early.

There was no comment from Schumacher, who’s prepping the Robert De Niro-Philip Seymour Hoffman comedy “Flawless.” WB passed on that Schumacher-scripted project as well, with MGM prexy Michael Nathanson jumping on it immediately.

MUTUAL “BELIEVERS”: Doug Richardson, who turned to novels after being railroaded with the filmed version of his script “The Money Train,” has just set up his second novel as a film. “True Believers,” an Avon novel about cults, has been acquired by “Saving Private Ryan” producers and Mutual Film Co. partners Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn.

“Dark Horse” previously sold to Fox 2000 and Imagine for John Travolta, and Richardson is currently working with Mutual on the Par project “The Last Good Time.” The scribe/author’s repped by William Morris and attorney Alan Wertheimer.

“PARADISE” LOST? The Larry Clark-directed Trimark movie “Another Day in Paradise” had strong reaction but little cast support at the Toronto Film Festival. Apparently, none of the principals in the film want to get near the director after the Venice Film Festival. There, Clark was a regular merchant of Venice mayhem, verbally abusing people and actually punching out the film’s producer, Stephen Chin, at an event. Clark’s an acclaimed photographer-turned-helmer whose first pic was “Kids.”

“Paradise,” a tragic love story framed against the violent world of thieves and drug addicts in Tulsa, is partly based on Clark’s acclaimed photo book “Tulsa.” Chin did not return calls.

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