Paramount wants director for long-delayed film

Paramount is negotiating with Chris Columbus to direct its long-gestating “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”

Jim Carrey is still set to star as newspaper columnist-explorer Robert Ripley.

After being unplugged months before a 2007 production start in China with Tim Burton at the helm, “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” is getting a complete overhaul, based on a concept that Columbus pitched. Both Paramount and Carrey sparked to it, and the China-based storyline will be scrapped.

Once Columbus’ deal is closed, the studio will hire a writer to draft the project, which remains a Par priority: The studio is aiming for a 2011 release and is hoping the pic spawns a franchise. Columbus, who most recently wrapped “I Love You, Beth Cooper,” is next expected to direct “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief,” based on the Rick Riordan book.

Carrey next will be seen starring in the Peyton Reed-directed Warner Bros. comedy “Yes Man” and the indie drama “I Love You Phillip Morris,” which was written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. He also plays Ebenezer Scrooge and three ghosts in “A Christmas Carol,” Robert Zemeckis’ performance capture film for Disney.

CAA reps both Columbus and Carrey.

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