Pierce Brosnan has inked to star in and produce “Defiance,” an action drama for Phoenix Pictures. Scripted by Todd Baker, pic is an action-adventure set in the near future, with Brosnan playing the leader of a renegade band of soldiers battling a totalitarian government. Brosnan and partner Beau St. Clair will produce under their Irish Dreamtime banner.

“Defiance” will be vying with several other projects Irish Dreamtime is involved in which will get Brosnan’s slot before he starts his third James Bond film in January. The actor, who currently stars in “Tailor of Panama,” had been expected to topline the Renny Harlin-directed adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” for Warner Bros. and Franchise, but the script went back for a rewrite.

He’s also had a flurry of offers for pre-strike pictures that included “Basic Instinct 2,” but has instead been concentrating on his own productions: Brosnan and St. Clair are also developing the Philip Lasker-scripted “Larceny for Lovers” at Mandalay and have relocated a Roger Donaldson-directed adaptation of “The Day After Tomorrow” to be financed by Myriad.

“Defiance” came to Phoenix-based Bradford W. Smith from Baker’s agent Jon Klane, and Smith will exec produce with Baker. Phoenix’s Anne Rodman will oversee the project. Phoenix chairman/CEO Mike Medavoy made the deal.

The actor will reprise his role of James Bond in the 20th installment of the 007 franchise in January.

“SCARY” CASTING: Dish hears Marlon Brando has been offered $1 million for a cameo in Dimension’s “Scary Movie” sequel that will be directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans. Brando is coming off “The Score” with Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, and apparently wants to exercise his funny bone. The studio wouldn’t comment nor would Brando’s reps at CAA, but he could be in a big money deal before the week’s over.

THE LAST STUDIO FILM: Touchstone is negotiating for what will be the last studio pre-strike movie. Disney wants to make a concert movie out of comedy routines of Eddie Griffin, who’ll tape three shows on the last weekend of June, just before SAG contracts expire. The film will be produced by David Permut, Brad Grey and Peter Safran in a deal now being negotiated by WMA. Permut most recently produced the Disney comedy “Double Take,” which starred Griffin and Orlando Jones. Griffin’s fast rising in the screen comedy ranks: He got his break playing Rob Schneider’s pimp in “Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo,” and will costar with Denzel Washington and Robert Duvall in the Nick Cassavettes-directed “John Q.” He’s currently starring in the title character in “Undercover Brother,” the Malcolm Lee-directed Imagine comedy. The plan is to spend $3 million to make a film revolving around his comedy routines that’ll be filmed in D.C. interspersed with docu-style footage tracing his upbringing in Kansas City.

MENDES ON THE RISE: Not long after signing with CAA and joining Denzel Washington in the drama “Training Day,” Eva Mendes has landed the female lead alongside Ice Cube in “About the Benjamins,” the Cube-produced drama for New Line Cinema that’s being directed by Kevin Bray.

RYAN’S PRIVATES: David T. Wagner and Brent Goldberg are young screenwriters who, like a swarm of newcomers, got agents and notoriety from doing short parodies of famous films. The architects of “Saving Ryan’s Privates” have used momentum from the short to become prolific scribes: They got an agent in Broder Kurland Webb Uffner’s Justin Silvera, who went to high school with the duo. The first break for the writers was getting Tapestry partners Andrew Panay, Robert Levy and Peter Abrams to give them their first job, the college comedy “Van Wilder,” which is now in production at Artisan with Tara Reid and Ryan Reynolds starring. The Tapestry trio then tapped them to rewrite the Miramax ‘N Sync vehicle “On the El.” The scribes then did a rewrite of the Chuck Gordon-produced Paramount comedy “Duane Moody’s Office Christmas Party,” and now Gordon’s producing at Fox Searchlight “The Girl Next Door,” a comedy the duo scripted from their pitch about a high school senior who falls in love with the woman next door, whom he later learns is a porn star. Also on tap: “The Chestler” for Greenblatt Janollari and Halsted Pictures, and they’ve just made a deal with Klasky-Csupo for the live action feature “Surf Dogs” at Nickelodeon Films.

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