Altman’s ‘Dr. T’ may test Hunt’s reflexes

Tyler may make office visit

NEW YORK — Helen Hunt is near a commitment to star with Richard Gere in “Dr. T and the Women,” the film to be directed by Robert Altman for Initial Entertainment Group.

Scripted by “Cookie’s Fortune” writer Anne Rapp, the comedy concerns a midlife crisis-suffering gynecologist who mixes stirrups with lifestyle stir-ups as he becomes entangled with the many women in his life. Hunt will play a woman with whom he has an extramarital affair. Liv Tyler is also in discussions to take part in the film, and Altman has yet to cast an actress to play the gynecologist’s wife.

Film is being packaged by ICM’s Ken Kamins, who made the IEG deal and is looking for a domestic distributor. Filming will begin in mid-November in Dallas regardless, and the filmmakers could wait until they’ve finished production to set it up in the States. Altman will produce with James McLindon, with Cindy Cowan exec producing.

Good fit

Hunt, the Emmy-winning “Mad About You” star who won the best actress Oscar for “As Good as It Gets,” expects to shoot “Dr. T” before she returns to shoot the second leg of the Robert Zemeckis-directed “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks. That film, in which Hanks plays a man shipwrecked on a deserted island, took a planned hiatus so that Hanks can diet down to an emaciated state. Hunt is in talks to follow that with “From Alice to Ocean” for USA Films.

With her manager and production partner Connie Tavel, Hunt has lured screenwriter Robert Getchel out of retirement to adapt the upcoming Robert B. Parker novel “Family Honor” into a film vehicle for Hunt at Columbia Pictures.

Hunt/Tavel made an agreement several months ago to develop the new series by the “Spenser: For Hire” author based around a female detective. Hunt cajoled a return by Getchel, whose screen credits range from “Bound for Glory” to “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” to “The Client.”

All parties hope to have the detective series begin production by the end of the year 2000. The book will be published this fall, and Hunt hopes to turn the character into a recurring film series. She’s repped by CAA, as is Tyler.

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