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Disney kneels to ‘Bishop’

Disney scored a major coup late last week by landing rights to distribute a remake of the 1947 film “The Bishop’s Wife,” a light comedy about an angel who helps a bishop build a church. Samuel Goldwyn Jr., whose father produced the original, will produce.

Touchstone and Paramount both fought hard for the right to distribute the film, reportedly because pic will star Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.

The original starred Cary Grant as the angel, Loretta Young and David Niven. Washington and Houston have been talked up as an ideal screen pairing before, with Houston trying to fashion a follow-up to the smash hit “The Bodyguard.”

Among other things, there has been talk of pairing the two in yet another remake of “A Star is Born” by producer Quincy Jones at Warner Bros., or a screen version of the Michael Bennett musical “Dreamgirls.” But “The Bishop’s Wife” will be the first feature they make together, and Touchstone’s David Hobermannailed the project, much to the chagrin of other studio execs.

There’s no deal yet, no script, and no director attached, but this is certainly a hot pairing, and insiders say they’re talking about getting Laurence Fishburne, fresh from his Oscar-nominated role in “What’s Love Got to Do With It ,” for the David Niven bishop role. Washington is currently starring in “Devil in a Blue Dress” for director Carl Franklin at TriStar, and Houston will tour in the fall, so a conceivable start date could be early 1995.

JON PETERS, the former Columbia honcho who recently made a deal to produce films at Warner Bros., is closing in on his first picture. Buzz hears Peters will become the producer of “Under Siege II,” the Steven Seagal starrer to be directed by Geoff Murphy, who was going to direct Seagal in Arnold Kopelson’s “Dead Reckoning.” Though the logistics are being worked out, Arnon Milchan’s New Regency, which produced the hit first film, is financing half of the sequel. Peters and Seagal are tight, with Seagal to star in the Peters-produced Col pic “Fire Down Below.”

“ONE LIFE TO LIVE” executive producer Linda Gottlieb, who’s led several professional lives, is about to start another. Gottlieb is ending her three-year soap stint to start Linda Gottlieb Enterprises, a venture that will hatch marketing and licensing opportunities for existing programs, as well as create new programs — all of which will capitalize on the emerging interactive technology.

Gottlieb has a knack for being in on the ground floor of good things. She produced “Dirty Dancing,” the $ 5 million film whose worldwide gross hit $ 250 million; pioneered the ABC “Afterschool Special” format and wrote the bestselling book “When Successful People Fail.”

When she got to “One Life to Live,” the show was on life support. She revitalized the show by cleaning out the writing staff and introducing catchy storylineslike homophobia and gang rape. It won a Writers Guild award last year and is the fourth-ranked soap in the ratings.

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