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PICKER JOINS ‘CRUCIBLE’ WHILE PAR PIX PERCOLATE

Although he had been exclusive to Paramount, veteran producer David Picker has been granted the right to join Robert Miller in producing the Nicholas Hytner-directed Fox film “The Crucible,” which Arthur Miller adapted from his 1953 play about the Salem witch hunts. The movie will star Daniel Day-Lewis, and negotiations are under way for Winona Ryder and Emma Thompson to join the cast.

Picker wouldn’t comment on the casting, but said he was grateful that Par topper Sherry Lansing let him do the film, while his Par properties continue to develop. Filming will begin Sept. 5, and the project is a high priority for Fox, with production prexy Tom Jacobson and exec veep Dylan Sellers laboring on the project.

The Picker pack

The pick of Picker projects at Par include the first original script – “Murders That Matter” – from Chris Gerolmo, who wrote “Mississippi Burning” and most recently wrote and directed the acclaimed HBO film “Citizen X.”

TV stalwart Ed. Weinberger is developing a remake of the 1957 Peter Sellers film, “The Naked Truth,” about celebs who band together to kill a blackmailer threatening to expose their lives. David Ives is writing “All in the Timing,” a romantic comedy adapted from the playwright’s stage work about how difficult it is for two people to fall in love. Playwright Tom Griffin (“Einstein and the Polar Bear”) is scripting “Montana 48,” based on a Larry Watson novel, and Griffin is also adapting the Mitchell Smith novel “Karma.” Action scribe John Bishop is doing the thriller “Devil’s Music.”

Rounding out the list is “Deja Vu” by Howard Rodman and “Squeeze Play,” a comedy based on a Jane Leavy novel about a woman reporter in a baseball locker room by Norman Steinberg (“My Favorite Year”).

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