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In ‘Basic’ training

McTiernan enlisting to helm military thriller

Director John McTiernan, who most recently completed work on MGM’s upcoming remake of “Rollerball,” is in negotiations to helm Phoenix Pictures’ military thriller “Basic,” being financed by Intermedia Films.

James Vanderbilt-penned suspenser, to be produced by Phoenix and Intermedia, centers around a DEA agent who investigates the disappearance of a legendary Army ranger drill instructor and several cadets.

Pic is expected to start production before the end of the year.

“Basic,” a favorite project for Phoenix chairman-CEO Mike Medavoy, seemed close to a go at Columbia Pictures last fall, with Lee Tamahori directing and Catherine Keener and Benicio Del Toro in the leads.

Tamahori was in the process of realigning himself to the pic when Medavoy clinched the Intermedia deal, but neither Keener nor Del Toro are expected to participate. Tamahori has subsequently dropped out of the equation.

Pic will continue to be steered by Phoenix director of development Brad Fischer. Film will be produced by Phoenix-based Orbit Entertainment Group and exec produced by Intermedia partners Nigel Sinclair, Guy East and Moritz Borman.

Slate full of ‘Holes’

Phoenix is readying a number of other projects for production, including “Holes,” which Cary Granat’s New York-based Walden Media has come aboard to finance and co-produce for director Andrew Davis. Project is expected to start production at the end of October.

Company also is developing “Damnation Game,” based on the Clive Barker novel of the same name, which is set up at Warner Bros., and “Shanghai,” a spy thriller recently acquired by Miramax Films.

McTiernan, who is repped by AMG, at one point expected to team with Intermedia on Sharon Stone starrer “Basic Instinct 2,” but helmer quietly departed that film over casting issues.

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