Dish: Lion woos scribes for actioner

In a preemptive deal worth $1 million against $1.5 million, MGM has purchased an untitled pitch by writers James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox for a film that will be directed by John Woo and produced by his partner, Terence Chang.

While the studio and producers were mum on its subject, the pitch is said to be a large-canvas action drama, the kind of film thats attract Woo, whose recent efforts include “Mission: Impossible 2” and “Face/Off.” The untitled drama has been set up under Woo and Chang’s Lion Rock Productions, which has an overall deal at MGM. (Woo and Chang are now in post-production on “Windtalkers,” the WWII drama that Woo directed, starring Nicolas Cage, Christian Slater and Mark Ruffalo.)

DeMonaco and Fox last scripted the Samuel L. Jackson-Kevin Spacey hit “The Negotiator,” and wrote the MGM/Hyde Park drama “Extractors,” which director John McTiernan is developing as a vehicle for Jackson. The scribe duo also created and exec produced “Ryan Caufield: Year One,” a Fox series which had a short run last season. WMA put the package together, repping the writers and the director.

PITCH QUEEN: While many segments of Hollywood has slowed to a crawl because of concerns about summer labor strife, the pitch business is fairly thriving. Producer Lauren Lloyd has set up two in the last week, and 10 in the past 11 months. She turned to the pitch as a way to jumpstart a producing career after leaving the executive suites at Hollywood Pictures and then Columbia; in the past week, Lloyd has set at Disney the Greg McBride-scripted comedy “Happily Never After,” a comedy which explores the real lives of classic fairy tale characters like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. That followed a deal last week with Kopelson Ent. and Paramount on the Chad and Carey Hayes-scripted adventure “Window to Atlantis.” Already in production is the Disney comedy “Dog Catcher,” and now on tap is the Boyce Bugliari-Jamie McLaughlin Fox comedy “Sonny Day.” Lloyd is now producing “Freddie Got Fingered,” which Tom Green directed, and “Cellular,” which Dean Devlin will helm.

NO LONGER A BABE IN THE WOOD: Elijah Wood will star as Edward Burns brother in “Ash Wednesday,” the mobster drama which Burns wrote and is directing in Gotham for IFC Productions. Pic is the first film which Wood has taken in awhile, as he’s been busy starring as Frodo Baggins in three installments of the Peter Jackson-directed adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which New Line releases on Dec. 19. Wood will next be seen starring with Salma Hayek, Steve Zahn and Jeff Goldblum in “Chain of Fools.”

ARCHIE A WISEGUY? As Universal heavily promotes its cartoon-to-live-action transformation “Josie and the Pussycats,” the studio might want to reconsider its mothballed project “The Archies.” If only because the first two drafts were penned by David Chase, whose HBO creation “The Sopranos” has made him one of the most coveted scribes in town. Perhaps an “Archie” with edge is worth another look.

ROBBED OF A “SOPRANOS” MOMENT: One clever inside joke on “The Sopranos” which viewers didn’t see in last night’s episode was one which came at the expense of Daily News gossip columnist Mitchell Fink. After the gossipist divulged upcoming plot details that angered David Chase and other “Sopranos” writers, they retaliated by scripting and shooting a scene in which daughter Meadow Soprano (Jamie Lynn-Sigler) and her roommate come upon a babbling homeless woman pushing a shopping cart. When the roommate tries to give her money, the woman bends over and bares her posterior, with a crumpled page of the Daily News crudely placed. Trying to calm the roomie, Meadow noted that “it was Mitchell Fink’s face in her crack.” That scene, evident in preview tapes of episode #6 sent to critics, was gone Sunday night. Had Chase decided to turn the other cheek? Hardly. Sources said Chase decided not to give the columnist the validation of becoming part of “Sopranos” lore, even if it was in the context of an insult. His logic proved sound, as Fink sounded bummed on Monday. “My 15 minutes proved less than that,” said Fink. “They took this shot at me, then got my hopes up about it, so I guess they got back at me for the sins I committed.”

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