McBurney complicit with Bean

SOME INTRIGUING NEWS for those people who don’t exactly consider “Bean — The Ultimate Disaster Movie” as the artistic pinnacle of recent British cinema. Rowan Atkinson has teamed up with Simon McBurney, the actor-director behind innovative legit troupe Theatre de Complicite, to develop “Bean 2,” which is likely to shoot later this year.

Complicite has a rep for groundbreaking physical theater that combines highbrow themes with comedic elements. It recently enjoyed a sell-out revival at the National Theater of its early work “A Minute Too Late,” which draws heavily on mime, slapstick and Buster Keatonesque gags.

Atkinson, of course, is the king of physical comedy, particularly in the near silent role of the destructively insensitive Mr. Bean, contorting his rubbery features and spindly limbs to huge box office effect. The decision to work with McBurney indicates a desire on the part of Atkinson, co-writer Robin Driscoll and producer Working Title to bring a whole new dimension to the lucrative Bean franchise.

Vaughn cries uncle

As Matthew Vaughn heads off to direct “X-Men 3,” he has abandoned his plans to remake “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

Well, sort of. In fact, Vaughn is still working with writer John Hodge on a spy project for Warner, but he has persuaded the studio to develop it as an original screenplay, and not as an “U.N.C.L.E.” redo.

Vaughn always said his and Hodge’s concept for “U.N.C.L.E” would radically reinvent the 1960s TV series, keeping nothing but the title. That prompted howls of outrage from the show’s fans, which helped Vaughn convince Warner there was no upside in associating his project with the old show.

Curtis, Minghella pair for Precious project

Richard Curtis has agreed to collaborate with Anthony Minghella to create a TV series based on Alexander McCall Smith‘s bestselling novel “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” and its sequels. Minghella’s Mirage Enterprises is developing the project with Miramax Films.

The plan is for Curtis and Minghella, who are old friends and have long wanted to work together, to script the pilot and lay down the outline for the entire series, which follows the gentle moral adventures of Botswanan lady detective Precious Ramotswe.

No formal deal with Curtis has yet been signed and, given the pair’s overloaded schedules, insiders question how soon they will start work. “Einstein would have to devise some new theory of relativity to get those two together,” joked one insider.

If and when they do, it will be a double first — the first time Curtis has done an adaptation, and the first time Minghella has scripted something he won’t direct. But that’s the effect McCall Smith’s beguiling novels have on their fans.

Studios circle ‘Long Way Down’

Having four films made from your first three books is a pretty decent track record, especially when your fourth is also being developed at a studio.

So the arrival of Brit author Nick Hornby‘s latest novel, “A Long Way Down,” due for publication in May, is a significant event in Hollywood’s literary circles. The manuscript has been officially sent only to a couple of handpicked filmmakers, but that hasn’t stopped unauthorized copies from leaking out to all and sundry in London, New York and Los Angeles.

“A Long Way Down” is the story of a group of people gathered at a notorious suicide spot on New Year’s Eve, intending to throw themselves to their deaths at the stroke of midnight. But they all have second thoughts, and the book follows their subsequent adventures.

So far, there have been movie versions of Hornby’s “About a Boy,” “High Fidelity” and two based on his autobiographical debut “Fever Pitch.” Laura Ziskin is working on his most recent novel, “How to Be Good,” for Columbia. Just for good measure, “High Fidelity” is set to become a Broadway musical. A film deal for “A Long Way Down” looks certain to follow.

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