Clooney poised to make 'Confessions'

Goran Visnjic has inked a deal that runs through “ER’s” 11th season, reupping for four years.

Visnjic’s deal follows a recent reupping by Noah Wyle and follows the surprise return by original cast member Sherry Stringfield, who, like Wyle, is also booked to stay through the show’s 10th season.

Move gives Warner Bros. Television a powerful selling point in any future negotiations with NBC to keep the hit drama on the air past its 10th season. The Peacock last year renewed “ER” until May 2004, agreeing to pay between $8 million and $9 million per season, starting this fall.

NBC had been paying a record $13 million per episode for “ER” as part of a previous renewal deal inked in January 1998.

Visnjic joined the show after the exit of George Clooney; his signing indicates that Wells and WB will likely try to persuade NBC to add one more year to its current deal. “ER” has shown no signs of giving up its ratings crown as TV’s top-rated drama, which it’s maintained despite the defections of several core cast members.

The exact numbers of Visnjic’s deal were being clamped as tightly as a leaking artery, because the same network, producer and studio are in the midst of contract renegotiations with the cast members of their latest runaway dramatic hit, “The West Wing.” But sources said that the deal will put Visnjic in the six-figure-per-episode club, with the total pact worth millions of dollars. The one remaining season in his original deal will be sweetened to that salary level, and he’ll continue three seasons beyond that. That’s quite an accomplishment for the 28-year old who’s hardly a household name yet. Visnjic was discovered when “Welcome to Sarajevo” bowed at the Cannes Film Festival several years ago. The UTA-repped Visnjic assumed the troubled-heartthrob position vacated by Clooney, whom Visnjic joined in “The Peacemaker.” Visnjic also did “Practical Magic” and starred with Heather Graham in “Committed.” He’ll next be seen in “The Deep End,” a Fox Searchlight pic bowing Aug. 8.

Wells said that Visnjic “has been great for the show. He’s a wonderful actor and a consummate professional.”

CLOONEY’S “CONFESSIONS”: “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” the adaptation of the Chuck Barris memoir that has come together several times only to be gonged in pre-production, is coming back together at Miramax, with George Clooney poised to make his directorial debut. “Confessions” is the imaginative memoir in which Barris declared that, while he was known as a gameshow magnate and host of the quirky “Gong Show,” it was all a cover for his real duties as a CIA assassin. Charlie Kaufman, who wrote “Being John Malkovich,” penned a script for producer Andrew Lazar that has drawn the interest of directors like P.J. Hogan, David Fincher and most recently, “X-Men” helmer Bryan Singer. It has also drawn stars like Mike Myers, Johnny Depp, Ben Stiller and Sean Penn. Each time, the project stalled.

It has never been far from the mind of Clooney, who absolutely loves the script and has long wanted to play the guy who recruits Barris to become a government assassin. Neither Miramax nor Clooney would comment, but sources said that Singer will be busy prepping the sequel to “X-Men,” opening the door for Clooney to take his first turn behind the camera. Lazar and his Mad Chance banner remain the driving force behind the film, but Clooney’s Section Eight will likely become involved in a producing capacity as well. That would be an asset to the picture, since Clooney would be godfathered through his maiden directing voyage by his partner, reigning best director Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh. Soderbergh and Clooney, who met while making “Out of Sight,” just wrapped their second film together, the all-star-cast remake of “Ocean’s Eleven” at Warner Bros. While it’s completely unclear whether Depp will be back in the role of the gameshow host-agent, it’s likely that Clooney will be playing the dual role of director-co-star by the time the film gets going in the fall. Clooney’s repped by CAA.

DISHINGS: Richard T. Jones, the “Judging Amy” star who’s emerging as a screen presence with “Phone Booth,” “Baby’s in Black” and the indie drama “G,” has signed with Writers & Artists…Handprint Entertainment has signed Roger Bart, with plans to steer the acclaimed Broadway performer into more screen and TV work. Bart, who won both the 1999 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” is currently on Broadway in the smash “The Producers,” for which he was Tony-nominated as well. His screen work to date includes “The Insider” and providing the singing voice for the title character in the animated Disney pic “Hercules” … Marion Rosenberg, known in Hollywood as the dealmaker for the likes of Paul Verhoeven, Elizabeth Taylor and the Agatha Christie estate rights holders Chorion Intellectual Properties, is being honored by Buckingham Palace for her work on behalf of the British film industry. Rosenberg, who helped form the L.A. chapter of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, will be given the Order of the British Empire by the Queen, in a ceremony to take place at Buckingham Palace … This column will take a short break, with Dish returning July 10.

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