Scribes float Col’s boat

Studio in talks with Wilkinson, Rivele for pic rewrite

“Dreadnought” was considered dead in the water last fall, a collateral casualty of the events of Sept. 11, but Columbia Pictures is now throwing a life preserver to naval action thriller.

Studio is in negotiations with reps for Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele (“Ali” and “Nixon”) to rewrite the pic, which has Will Smith circling to star.

First penned by Blake Masters in 1997, and later rewritten by Dan Gilroy, “Dreadnought” is the story of the accidental drowning of a civilian jetliner in the Atlantic by the Navy’s most sophisticated ship.

Original helmer McG left the project to instead take on the sequel to Col’s “Charlie’s Angel’s” after the terrorist attack in New York. Conventional wisdom in the aftermath of the tragedies was that no one would be able to make the pic. But Sony, like other studios, is hoping that time heals all wounds.

Pic’s producers are Red Wagon Prods. Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher, who were eager for a character-heightening rewrite — which had been a concern with the initial Gilroy draft, according to insiders at the studio.

The CAA-repped Rivele and Wilkinson seem like excellent choices, having cut their teeth on biopics such as “Nixon” “Ali” and most recently “Joe DiMaggio” for Universal and producer Larry Gordon.

“We were drawn to it precisely because it’s unlike anything we’ve done before,” said Rivele. “I think it can be a good old-fashioned summer popcorn movie. And we love working with Will (Smith), who is one of our favorite guys in the world to work with.”

Smith just recently moved his new home to Col, inking a three-year, first- look deal with his Overbrook Entertainment there only last January. Project will be overseen by exec veepee of production Amy Baer and production prexy Peter Schlessel.

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