Roberts sweet on Roth film

Cusack, Crystal, Zeta-Jones could round out the stars

Julia Roberts, John Cusack and Billy Crystal are in talks to star in the Revolution Studios comedy “America’s Sweethearts,” with conversations also ongoing with Catherine Zeta-Jones to play a lead role.

Revolution topper Joe Roth may direct the film. If he can find the time to get behind the camera –his new studio will have eight films in release in 2001 — he’ll do it on the Revolution film with real star power. That’s providing the deals with Roberts, Cusack and Crystal close as expected and Zeta-Jones agrees to take that film as her return from maternity leave.

Pic, scripted by Crystal and “Analyze This” scribe Peter Tolan, will be produced by Susan Arnold and Donna Roth. Production will start in January.

The comedy revolves around a married movie star couple (Cusack and Zeta-Jones) who have to promote a film they’ve made together even though their marriage is over and they loathe one another. The publicist (Crystal) for the film tries to salvage a press junket by perpetrating the ruse that they’ve patched things up. In fact, the male star is in love with his wife’s sister, a former fattie who’s slimmed down (the role for which Roberts is negotiating).

Comedy would mark Roth’s first directing project since running Fox and then Disney. Roth has proven himself as a helmer with credits that include “Coupe De Ville,” “Streets of Gold” and “Revenge of the Nerds II.” Under the steering of Roth and his key execs Todd Garner and Rob Moore, Revolution figures to have “America’s Sweethearts” on a 2001 release sked that features “The New Guy,” “Tom Cats,” “Animal,” “The One,” “Stealing Stanford,” the Ridley Scott-directed “Black Hawk Down” and the John Hughes-directed “The Chambermaid.”

Roberts’ busy sked

Roberts, a longtime Roth ally who has made an overall deal at Revolution, recently completed the Gore Verbinski-directed “The Mexican” with Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini. She’s expected to join the likes of Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ralph Fiennes and Alan Arkin in the Steven Soderbergh-directed remake of “Ocean’s Eleven” for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures, so if she does “Sweethearts,” she will be busy before the projected production strike.

Crystal just directed “61*,” the HBO pic about Roger Maris’ race to break Babe Ruth’s single season home run record in 1961.

Roberts is repped by ICM, Crystal, Zeta-Jones and Cusack by William Morris.

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