'Catch' scribe, 'Simone' writer team to pen pic

This article was corrected on Feb. 11, 2003.

Steven Spielberg is in final negotiations to direct Tom Hanks in DreamWorks’ airport comedy “Terminal.”

The director and star have been circling the project for months (Daily Variety, Dec. 12), and it now appears that Spielberg is close to signing on and will begin shooting the pic sometime toward the end of the year — a scheduling move that could make him available to helm another film before then, possibly Paramount Pictures’ fourth installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise.

“Terminal” would have Hanks play an Eastern European immigrant who becomes a resident of a New York airport terminal when a war breaks out and erases his country from the map, voiding his passport. He makes friends with the airport staff and falls in love with a flight attendant.

“Catch Me If You Can” scribe Jeff Nathanson and Sacha Gervasi penned “Terminal,” which Hanks helped develop into a starring vehicle. “Simone” helmer Andrew Niccol (“Gattaca”) had originally been attached to direct the film before ankling for other projects.

Third time teaming

Hanks, who is currently in the middle of production on Warner Bros.’ f/x-heavy family film “Polar Express,” most recently appeared in DreamWorks productions, “Road to Perdition” and “Catch Me If You Can,” which Spielberg also directed and the studio’s heads of production Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald produced. He is also committed to starring in the Coen Bros. remake of “The Ladykillers.”

Parkes and MacDonald are also producing “Terminal,” but exactly when “Terminal” takes off, of course, depends on when a production date is set for Paramount’s next “Indiana Jones” adventure.

Whipping up ‘Indy’

Spielberg is committed to helming the pic, with Harrison Ford once again cracking the whip.

Frank Darabont is penning the script for the next outing, and Spielberg is still awaiting a final draft. Project has been in development for some time, with all of the franchise’s major players said to be satisfied with the direction of the pic so far.

Ford, who will next appear in Revolution Studios’ action comedy “Hollywood Homicide” this summer opposite Josh Hartnett, appears to have his schedule free for “Indiana Jones 4,” should it shoot earlier than planned.

Paramount currently has the pic skedded for summer 2005, but the studio wouldn’t hesitate for the chance to get the tentpole earlier than planned. Discussions have already been had to move up the pic’s production by a year, with “Indiana Jones 4″ possibly going before the cameras this summer, making the pic available for 2004.

Free Spielberg

Either way, with “Terminal” not set to lense until the end of the year, Spielberg has his schedule free to helm another film before then.

Having Spielberg shoot “Indiana Jones 4″ and “Terminal” back-to-back wouldn’t be a new scenario for the director, considering he has piggybacked pics before with “Minority Report” and “Catch Me If You Can” and “Jurassic Park” and “Schindler’s List” in the past.

(Claude Brodesser and Michael Fleming contributed to this report).

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