The ‘Great’ race is shifting into high gear

After landing Warner Bros. as domestic partner on “Alexander the Great,” Intermedia has set a late June start for Colin Farrell and Oliver Stone.

“Barring accidents and natural disasters, this is a definite ‘go’ movie for us,” said Intermedia chairman Moritz Borman. “Colin’s deal has been made, he’s juggled his dates and made time for training. We’ve not decided 100% where we are going to start, haven’t made up our minds whether we’ll sell territories ourselves, or to a studio like we did on ‘Terminator 3.’ The June date changes only in that Oliver might begin second unit shooting earlier.”

Borman wouldn’t disclose locations, but if his timetable is accurate, the pressure’s on the rival pic from Baz Luhrmann and Dino De Laurentiis, who have backing from Universal and DreamWorks and Leonardo DiCaprio. De Laurentiis declined comment. Same subject picture races are common, but the victor is usually the first before the cameras. What financier could stand risking $140 million on the second film about the world conqueror?

The race is further complicated by its need to shoot in places like Morocco at a time when war is looming, affecting everything from completion bonds to insurance to stars reluctant to leave home.

“Maybe there is room for two Alexander films,” said Borman, who’ll be at the Golden Globes rooting for his pics “Adaptation” and “The Quiet American.”

“This is not one-upsmanship. We’ve got the money and are going forward with blinders on. It was hard labor for Oliver to find the angle to tell the story, but when he turned in his script, it glowed in the dark. There’s adventure, battles, doubt, conflict and glory. As the blueprint for an epic, it’s all in that one character. Warners shared that passion, they’ve been a good partner on ‘T3’ and Oliver had good dealings with them. The pieces fit.”

NOT GONE, BUT FORGOTTEN? Rob Lowe’s exiting “The West Wing” next month, but his Sam Seaborn character has been so scarce that he’s turned up on a milk carton — a joke gift Lowe sent castmates and execs at NBC and Warner Bros. His mug’s on the back of a real half-gallon container, under “Missing Persons.” Along with listing Seaborn’s vital stats, the carton informs he’s been “Missing since Christmas episode 2002” and was “Last seen, Edison Field, upper deck,” where Lowe was seen during the World Series. “Please call Bernie Brillstein if you’ve seen this man,” the carton implores. It’s unclear whether Lowe gets a proper “Wing” sendoff, or remains carton-worthy until he commits to a pilot for next season.

DOOBIE BROTHERS REUNITE: Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong grew apart enough that they seemed to mix like oil and bongwater, but Rae Dawn Chong is determined that her father and his longtime comic partner reunite in a new movie franchise. She’s scripted “Cheech and Chong Get Blunt,” and she and sister Robbi have gotten a commitment from the famed stoners to topline. She’s now shopping for distribution. “They had a falling out that was more creative difference than anything about where they wanted to go in their careers,” said Chong, who’ll produce with her dad, sis, and Marin. “The project allowed my sister and I to get them back in dialogue. With war looming, it’s a good time to laugh, and pot culture hasn’t waned at all.” The premise finds the duo serving community service as anti-drug preachers in a boy’s home. “It’s not a big budget, and both guys are sharper than ever, because they’ve both become health and workout nuts,” said Chong.

FRANCO IN SHORT DOSE: “Spider-Man” co-star James Franco makes his directing debut in “I Don’t Wanna Die,” a short film he’ll helm with his co-scripter Merriwether Williams. The pic’s about a seven-year old boy forced to confront his mortality, and Tatum O’Neal and Thomas Jane have signed on to play his parents. Ken Jacobson produces under the Garp & Duncan banner. Franco’s directing partner, Williams has a slew of writing credits that include “Sponge Bob Square Pants.”

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