Actor to star in 'Wolverine' sequel, 'Carousel'

Hugh Jackman and Seed Productions partner John Palermo are ramping up several projects for the “Wolverine” star.

Fox and Seed are in development on a sequel to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which topped the domestic box office over the weekend.

The Seed partners have begun planning the sequel, which they are squarely focusing on the samurai storyline originated in the comic series, and whose Japanese locale was teased after the film’s final credits. A writer has yet to be hired. Seed will produce.

Fox has just closed a deal to acquire “Personal Security,” a spec script by Matt Lieberman. Jackman will star as a tough Gotham police detective forced into bodyguard duty for a spoiled teen heiress who is receiving kidnapping threats. Jackman and Palermo will produce with Tapestry’s Michael Schreiber.

While Jackman has not set his next star vehicle, he has gotten revved up over “Drive,” a Seed-produced adaptation of the James Sallis novel set up at Universal.

Jackman will play a solitary man who drives race cars by day and getaway cars by night in Los Angeles. Jackman was energized by the latest draft written by Hossein Amini, who turned in a script that Jackman said captured the tone of a Steve McQueen film.

Long-in-the-works “Carousel” is also now a priority at Fox 2000, after David Magee turned in a script that Jackman and Palermo said keeps the timeless spirit of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, but injects relevance for a contemporary audience. Jackman will play Billy Bigelow. On Jackman’s wishlist for the role of Julie Jordan is Anne Hathaway, who dueted with him in the Oscarcast opening number. Negotiations have not begun with the actress.

Finally, Jackman, who won a Tony for “The Boy From Oz,” hopes to return to the Broadway stage in early 2010 in the title role in “Houdini,” with Jack O’Brien (“Hairspray”) directing, Danny Elfman writing the music, and David Yazbek (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”) writing lyrics. The book was first written by Kurt Andersen, but the producers are aiming for a rewrite. Jackman and Palermo will produce with Scott Sanders and David Rockwell.

The Fox-based Seed label has grown in size to include execs Amanda Schweitzer, Kathryn Tamblyn, Allan Mandelbaum and Joe Marino, with Alana Free operating the Sydney-based production office whose goal is to mount modest-budget films to harness local talent in Jackman’s home country.

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