ALLEN PENNED FOR JOURNO GUERIN: Twice Oscar-nominated actress Joan Allen has signed to play Irish journalist Veronica Guerin in “Though the Sky Falls,” the true story of an investigative reporter who was gunned down after writing about mobsters in Ireland. John Mackenzie (“The Long Good Friday”) will direct a script by Michael Sheridan. The film is being financed by Irish Screen and BSkyB.
Allen — who got Oscar noms for “Nixon” and “The Crucible” and got high marks for such films as “Pleasantville,” “Face/Off” and “The Ice Storm” — gets her first opportunity to carry a film. She plays a strong character who shook up organized crime in Ireland through her aggressive reportage. She broke precedent when she began naming mobsters in her stories, even knocking on the doors of her targets to get comments on their misdeeds. She joins Patrick Bergin, Pete Postlethwaite and Liam Cunningham.
The pic’s about to start production, meaning “Though The Sky Falls” will likely be the first of several rumored Guerin projects to reach the screen, notably one from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. “Though the Sky Falls” comes from a script on which Guerin actually worked as a consultant with Sheridan when it was envisioned as a fictionalized drama before she was murdered. And Allen has already met with Guerin’s husband to prep for the role. The financiers will sell U.S. distribution rights once the film is completed. Allen is repped by ICM’s Brian Mann and Joe Funicello.
CINEMATIC COLON CLASH IN THE WIND: Veronica Guerin isn’t the only subject of dueling projects with similar themes. It looks like Howard Stern is finally ready to topline the flatulence flick “The Adventures of Fartman,” but there is evidence that Stern’s thunder might be partially stolen by the upcoming Universal’s “Mystery Men.” That film is a comedy about dysfunctional superheroes which includes one called Spleen, a character played by Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman), who turns an affliction similar to that of Fartman into a questionable superpower.
J.F. Lawton, the “Pretty Woman” scribe who wrote “Fartman” several years ago and is now the co-creator and exec producer of the syndicated Pamela Anderson hit show “VIP,” is unconcerned that Fartman will suffer arriving on Reubens’ tailwind.
“There were two asteroid films and two Oscar-nominated WWII films. Why shouldn’t there be two films involving the colon,” said Lawton, who now owns the script and who confirmed that years after his well-received script stalled at New Line, Stern’s now ready to topline the comedy, which could be picked up soon by another studio.
“When New Line decided not to make the film, they had guaranteed me $600,000 to write it, and I told them forget the money if I could own the script free and clear,” said Lawton. “At one time, it seemed the humor was too outrageous,” Lawton said. “But after ‘There’s Something About Mary’ did so well, suddenly studios are looking for lower-budget comedies with an edge.”
In “Fartman,” Stern will play Clyde Flatiron, a wannabe journalist for a disreputable tabloid who is targeted for murder when he exposes a ruthless Realtor. Thugs lace his high colonic with a nuclear cocktail, unwittingly turning his troubled digestive system into an odorific Three Mile Island.
Said Lawton: “I’m truly not worried about the other film because this is more than a farting gimmick, it’s a good script with a story of unrequited love, like ‘Casablanca.’ ” Only here, Stern’s spurned by his female lead because she’s a lesbian, a part which Lawton thinks will suit his “VIP” producing partner Anderson. In its rookie season, Lawton and Anderson’s “VIP” has eclipsed “Baywatch” and trails only “Xena” in the syndie derby.
“Howard proved he could open a movie with ‘Private Parts,’ and this could be the one that gets his fans coming back again and again,” Lawton said.
MUCH ADO ABOUT BIJOU: While Cameron Crowe labors to replace Brad Pitt in his upcoming untitled film about the music biz for DreamWorks, he’s secured one up-and-comer who might be musically well established by the time the film comes out. Just cast in the ensemble is Bijou Phillips, the 18-year old former model whose first album, “I’d Rather Eat Glass,” is getting released this week by Almo Records.
She’s the half-sister of Wilson Phillips singer Chynna Phillips and daughter of Mamas and the Papas founder John Phillips. She made her screen debut in the James Toback-directed “Black & White.” Her music career’s being steered by former ICM music head Jonny Podell and screen career by ICM’s Nick Styne and manager Janet Billig.
Crowe’s not yet completed casting, but names being mentioned for the ensemble include Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Fairuza Balk and Anna Paquin. After what Crowe’s “Jerry Maguire” did for Tom Cruise, every young leading man is vying for the role Pitt vacated. Meryl Streep, who was once mentioned for a lead, is also out.
DISHINGS: “Will & Grace” co-star Megan Mullally, who started her career in such Broadway shows as “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Grease,” returns to her stage roots in her new one-woman show, “Sweetheart,” which just opened at the Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood. … Caleb Carr, author of “The Alienist,” continues to flourish in the rewrite game thanks to Morgan Creek. After rewriting the upcoming Cuba Gooding Jr. film “Chill Factor” and the Mary Lambert-directed “The In Between,” he’s been signed by Morgan Creek prexy Jonathan Zimbert to rewrite the teen thriller “In Crowd.” When he comes up for air, Carr will write his next novel. He’s repped by John Ufland of Don Buchwald Associates.