‘Carolina’ on Stiles’ mind; a surprise ‘Exit’

“SAVE THE LAST DANCE” STAR Julia Stiles will topline “Carolina,” a Jon Amiel-helmed drama co-starring Kathy Bates and Alessandro Nivola.

Bregman IAC Prods. is financing the film, with production to begin in April.

“Carolina,” the latest pic to lock in a cast and financing with a pre-strike start date in mind, was written by tyro scribe Katherine Fugate.

Stiles will play a young woman who leaves her wildly eccentric Southern family and relocates to the West Coast. Newly settled, she tries to find happiness while choosing between two men who love her.

Pic will be produced by Carol Baum and Lou Pitt, with Martin Bregman, Kate Guinzburg and Louis A. Stroller exec producing. Bregman, the veteran producer whose past credits include “The Bone Collector” and “Sea of Love,” formed his financing venture with London-based sales and financing company IAC Films in the fall, bringing aboard Guinzburg to run the company. Bregman IAC will fully finance the mid-range budget film, and will set up domestic distribution in due time.

Stiles credits include “State and Main,” “Hamlet,” “10 Things I Hate About You” and the miniseries “The ’60s.” She has also filmed a small role in the Doug Liman-directed Matt Damon-starrer “The Bourne Identity.”

ON THE FAST TRACK: Tuesday’s L.A. premiere of the Warner Bros. action film “Exit Wounds” took some attendees by surprise. The Steven Seagal-starrer was preceded by a trailer for “Swordfish,” a highly unusual occurrence that appeared to catch offguard WB brass all the way up to studio topper Alan Horn. Word circulated that studio bigwigs were angry, but the film’s producer, Joel Silver, said any bad feelings were temporary. Silver, who also produced “Swordfish,” used the trailer that will be seen in “Exit Wounds” theatrical runs because he wanted to see if it would get people to take their seats. The idea cropped up after the pic’s earlier Gotham premiere got a late start because of all the glad-handing. “There was a misunderstanding that was only a problem until it was explained to the executives,” said Silver, who admitted he’d never seen a trailer run during a premiere before. “But the trailer worked like a charm. Maybe more people should do it.” Silver said that once WB brass saw why he did it and how effective it was, all was forgiven.

THE OTHER “FAMOUS”: “Everybody Famous!,” the Dominique Deruddere-directed film that is nominated for the foreign-language Oscar as a Belgian entry, is also in contention to be remade … American style. Several studio execs are now viewing cassettes of the Miramax-distribbed film for the prospect of making a remake purchase. Deruddere, whose credits include “Love is a Dog From Hell,” hatched a comedy about a man so bent on helping his daughter realize her singing ambitions that he kidnaps a bigtime rock star. The Gersh Agency is shopping the film and several studios are tempted by the thought that the concept could easily be moved to the world of hip-hop.

CASTINGS: Tcheky Karyo, who just wrapped a co-starring role alongside Jet Li in “Kiss of the Dragon” and last starred with Mel Gibson in “The Patriot,” has signed to co-star with Nick Nolte in “Double Down,” the Neil Jordan-directed remake of the 1955 French film noir “Bob le flambeur.” The film, financed by Alliance Atlantis, is about a veteran gangster and gambler who tries to rob a casino in the south of France. Karyo will start work in April … Rose McGowan has signed to star in the indie film “Vaccums,” which will begin shooting in Romania in late April. The film was co-written and will be directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, who paired to create the stage sensation “Stomp.” McGowan, best known for “Scream” and “Jawbreaker,” just completed the indie fim “Rat in the Can” opposite Kip Pardue and Robert Forster.

DISHINGS: The Mae West telepic at ABC that Dish reported Tuesday is a Columbia/TriStar effort, exec produced by Dolly Parton, who would star, and Helena Hacker Rosenberg. It’s being written by “Prizzi’s Honor” scribe Janet Roach, who’s also writing “A Course of Action,” an ABC pic about female boat racers.

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