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Gibson has date with ‘Women’

Hunt, Leoni eyed for Par pic

Mel Gibson will follow his tour of duty in the Revolutionary War drama “The Patriot” by entering the battlefield of the sexes in “What Women Want” for Paramount Pictures.

Gibson has committed to star in the offbeat romantic comedy, which is being helmed by Nancy Meyers (“The Parent Trap”).

While his deal-points have to be ironed out, Gibson has slotted the pic as his followup to the Roland Emmerich-helmed “Patriot” at Sony.

‘Women’ in waiting

“Patriot” is scheduled to go before the cameras in September and will likely end its shoot in December, leaving Gibson available to start “What Women Want” sometime in early 2000.

In the romantic comedy, Gibson is from Mars, but he learns to hear Venus. He’ll portray a chauvinistic executive who, after an accident, acquires the ability to hear what every woman he meets is really thinking.

While no offers have been made, Par is interested in Helen Hunt and Tea Leoni for the lead female roles.

Project initially was set up and developed at Touchstone Pictures before Paramount picked it up out of turnaround earlier this year.

Meyers penned a rewrite of the screenplay, first written (under the title “Head Games”) by TV scribes Josh Goldsmith and Kathy Yuspah.

Meyers also will produce along with Wind Dancer Films’ Susan Cartsonis and Roundtable Entertainment’s Gina Matthews. Gibson and partner Bruce Davey’s Icon Prods., which has a first-look production and co-financing pact with Par, also will serve as producers and will likely handle the film’s international distribution rights.

Under its first-look pact with Paramount, Icon co-finances with the studio projects in which Gibson directs, produces and/or stars, as well as other Par-owned productions.

Shy of romance

“What Women Want” will mark something of a departure for Gibson, who became one of Hollywood’s top box office draws through actioners like the “Lethal Weapon” series or epic dramas like “Braveheart.” While one thing women want is to see Gibson onscreen, the actor/director has rarely ventured into romantic comedies, with only a couple of entries on his filmography drawn from that genre — namely the Western “Maverick” with Jodie Foster and “Bird On a Wire,” in which he starred with Goldie Hawn.

Gibson is repped by International Creative Management’s Ed Limato.

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