Drew Barrymore has made a deal with Middle Fork Prods. and the Shooting Gallery to star in and produce an adaptation of Robert Nathan’s 1958 novel “So Love Returns.”

Barrymore will produce with her Flower Films partner Nancy Juvonen, Middle Fork chairman Verna Harrah and Shooting Gallery chairman/CEO Larry Meistrich, whose company will finance and likely distribute the pic through Universal. MFP production prexy Susan Ruskin will exec produce.

Nathan’s “The Bishop’s Wife” and “Portrait of Jennie” were made into memorable features (the latter co-starred Barrymore’s great-aunt, Ethel). Barrymore obtained the long-forgotten “So Love Returns” through the author’s estate. The novel concerns a young writer whose world is shattered by the death of his wife. The man becomes a recluse and disconnects from his two small children until a woman appears magically from the ocean to help him heal.

Barrymore and Juvonen came to Middle Forks’ Harrah after rebelling against several studios who wished to change the love story from a man and his children to a man and a mermaid. “They all wanted to make the film a romantic comedy, another ‘Splash,’ and she wouldn’t change it,” said Harrah, who with Meistrich made the deal under the three-year multipic deal Middle Fork has with the Shooting Gallery through Universal.

Shooting Gallery will finance the entire pic for $5 million– less than what Barrymore alone makes on films like “Charlie’s Angels” and the Penny Marshall-directed “Riding in Cars With Boys.” She and other participants will defer in hopes of cashing in on the backend. Barrymore’s repped by CAA.

STAGE TURN FOR SHARON: Sharon Stone’s displayed a fearlessness in everything from “Basic Instinct” and “Casino” to the upcoming HBO pic “If These Walls Could Talk 2,” in which she and Ellen DeGeneres play a lesbian couple. Now, she’s contemplating making her Broadway bow in “Boston Marriage,” the David Mamet play about two lesbians at the turn of the century. Stone is meeting this week with director Howard Davies, who’s fresh from the acclaimed London and Broadway runs of “The Iceman Cometh” with Kevin Spacey. Stone’s repped by ICM and managed by Chuck Binder.

U’S GOT A MONSTER ON ITS HANDS: Universal’s attempts to do a CGI “Frankenstein” has turned into a horror story resembling Mary Shelley’s original tale of a reanimated monster who haunts its maker. Here, U tried to CGI animate the green guy, and when the studio tried to pull the plug, it found out it’s on the hook for a lot of green: Aside from more than $10 million invested, U contracted for as much as $80 million with Industrial Light & Magic, the George Lucas-owned f/x house, which was poised to make the Frankenpic its first all-CGI effort.

U’s spent plenty both on script and extensive CGI testing for a film set up years ago and originally slated for a summer 2000 release.

The new regime halted progress because the film was deemed too dark to appeal to the half-pint audience that turned CGI pics like “Toy Story” and “A Bug’s Life” into huge hits. Dish hears the pic was canceled before the execs learned about the huge contractual obligation to ILM.

While not commenting on the amount, U confirmed a settlement with ILM is likely. U denied the CGI pic was dead, only delayed. Speculation is that as U moves ahead with “The Incredible Hulk” and sequels to “Jurassic Park” and “The Mummy,” the ILM debt could conceivably be applied to those pics. Trouble is, ILM likely has those sequels locked up anyway.

A SUNDANCE WEB INFILTRATION: After last year’s Sundance discovery “The Blair Witch Project” surfed the Web to become a box office phenomenon, it seems only appropriate that the upcoming Sundance Film Festival receives a full Internet infiltration.

A web of Internet companies has joined forces to present an “Interactive Lounge,” a fest-long bustle of computer companies that will hole up in Main Street eatery Harry O’s to show what the Web offers filmmakers, allow aspiring creatives to pitch their wares to prospective backers, and stage nightly concerts with such acts as Janet Jackson, Babyface, Perry Farrell, Third Eye Blind and Sinead O’Connor.

Harry O’s owner Kenny Griswold got involved after making his directing debut on “Net Worth,” and helped organized the Webfest with his Innovative Artists agent Dave Phillips. Dot-comers ShowBiz Data, Entertaindom and Sun Microsystems are chief sponsors, with Communities.com, Dell Computers, EBay, Firstuse.com Online Registry, LOADtv and Hitachi also involved.

The Sundance activities will also be Webcast through Entertaindom, whose exec Jim Banister said the lounge will “offer festival attendees a peek into the future of entertainment. We’re inviting cutting-edge filmmakers and writers to the Lounge to discuss Internet-based collaborations.”

Among other activities, ShowBiz Data will stage a “Pitch Festival,” in which movie ideas will be auctioned by pitchmeister Bob Kosberg for two hours daily beginning at 2 p.m. “The Interactive Lounge is the place where the independent film community will meet Hollywood at the new frontier of technology,” said ShowBiz Data CEO Oliver Eberle.

The most unusual event: Lapdance, a bash organized by “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, featuring a horde of scantily clad lapdancers.

CURRYING VILLAINY: Scene-stealing specialist Tim Curry has signed on to join Sam Rockwell as the villainous element in Columbia’s “Charlie’s Angels.” Curry’s repped by William Morris and Hyler Management.

ENDEAVOR TAPS McDORMAND: Endeavor has signed Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand to the percentery fold. The “Fargo” star will next be seen in Curtis Hanson’s “Wonder Boys” and just wrapped Cameron Crowe’s untitled pic about the music biz for DreamWorks.

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