Mendes at play in ‘Fields’; ‘Heart’ for Hayek

“American Beauty” director Sam Mendes has set Dougray Scott to star in “To the Green Fields and Beyond,” a play to run this fall at Donmar Warehouse in London.

While Hollywood has been wondering what Mendes will do for his second film since his first won several Oscars, Mendes decided early on that he would first do a play at the Donmar Warehouse, where he’s the artistic director. In his last project there, he directed “The Blue Room” with Nicole Kidman. Mendes had been expected to mount a production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” but changed his mind when he came across Nick Whitby’s “Green Fields” play, which revolves around a British tank corps fighting in France during WWI.

Scott, who last played the villain in “Mission: Impossible 2,” has signed on to play the role of Lt. Child, with Ray Winstone (“Nil by Mouth”) also expected to star in the production. Rehearsals begin Wednesday, and the play will open in late September and run through Nov. 25. While “The Blue Room” was hatched at Donmar and played Broadway, it’s unclear whether this one would cross the pond as well.

Scott, who, like Mendes, is looking at several possibilities for his next film, recently completed starring with Kate Winslet and Saffron Burrows in “Enigma,” the Michael Apted-directed drama produced by Mick Jagger. His last stint on the London stage came in 1993 in “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.”

Mendes has not committed to his next film project, though he has been working closely with “Get Shorty” scribe Scott Frank in developing “The Lookout,” an original thriller by Frank, at DreamWorks. Scott’s repped stage deal was made by PFD and UTA.

HAYEK, ALTAVISTA TAKE ‘HEART’: Altavista Films has optioned the international bestseller “Tear This Heart Out” as a starring vehicle for Salma Hayek, with her company Ventanarosa Prods. aboard to produce. The novel, by Angeles Mastretta, one of Latin America’s foremost writers, is an epic love story set against the Mexican Revolution. Hayek would play the title role of a beautiful headstrong young girl who, in 1930, is seduced and falls in love with a retired general who has just begun to rise in the political ranks in Mexico. She soon learns that her husband is not only an adulterer, but also a murderer. The material is described as lustily romantic. Mercedes Casanovas was the principal agent in Barcelona, while the William Morris Agency’s Bill Contardi brokered the film rights in conjunction with lit agent Tom Colchie, Casanovas’ rep in New York.

HENSON GOES TO ‘DOGS’: The Henson Co. has made a low- against mid-six-figure deal for “Time Dogs,” a pitch for an animated film to be written by Chris Leone and Laura Harkcom, with Leone to direct. Henson execs hope the film can evolve into a family franchise. Leone directed the well received short “How to Build a Better Mousetrap”; Harkcom is a former exec at Warner Animation. They previously sold the pitch “Extinction” to Sony last year. Deal, which comes right after Henson bought the Gavin Scott spec “Helmstar,” signals that the company is getting aggressive on the material market. The duo is managed by Circle of Confusion’s Lawrence Mattis as well as attorney Peter Grossman.

WILLIAMS ‘FINGERED’: Harland Williams, most recently seen in “The Whole Nine Yards” and “There’s Something About Mary,” has joined Tom Green in “Freddy Got Fingered,” the comedy Green’s directing for New Regency. Williams plays the best friend and confidant of Green, a cartoonist whose feud with his father over getting a real job escalates to the point where the entire planet is threatened with nuclear annihilation. Green wrote the script with Derek Harvie; Larry Brezner and Lauren Lloyd are producing. Williams also has signed deals with Shockwave.com and Comedyworld.com to develop programming for those Web sites, and he plays the lead in “Becoming Dick,” an E! movie that bows Aug. 31. Williams is repped by the William Morris Agency and Brillstein-Grey Management.

WINDTALKING: Studios are always looking for new actors who display their wares in showy roles. One to watch is Brian Van Holt, who has landed the role of a young Marine officer alongside Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater in “Windtalkers,” the John Woo-directed drama for MGM. Van Holt, who’s repped by William Morris, will next be seen starring with Amanda Peet in “Whipped,” a dark comedy for Destination that’s written and directed by Peter M. Cohen.

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