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Fox to remake ‘Dolls’

Topping, Thomas to produce

Twentieth Century Fox is in advanced talks with producing partners Betty Thomas and Jenno Topping to mount a contemporary remake of the camp classic “Valley of the Dolls.”

Once all the i’s have been dotted, Topping and Thomas take on producing chores and Thomas, who helmed Fox’s upcoming Eddie Murphy-starrer “Dr. Dolittle,” will possibly direct the film based on Jacqueline Susann’s best-selling novel.

Lisa Bishop, executor of the Susann estate, will serve as executive producer on the project.

Fox, which released Mark Robson’s 1967 film starring Patty Duke, Barbara Perkins and Sharon Tate, owned half the rights but had to consolidate outstanding rights in order to proceed with its ’90s update.

Susann’s melodramatic morality tale is about three showbiz women — Anne Welles, an uptight but naive New Englander; Neely O’Hara, a fast-living young starlet; and Jennifer North, a graciously endowed beauty — who go to New York seeking fame, fortune and mates. After achieving these goals, they find that the view from the top can be lonely, empty and unfulfilling and the threesome, accompanied by lots of drugs, spiral to rock bottom.

A Fox source said the studio hopes that if Thomas directs, the film would take on a “wicked, ‘Brady Bunch’-like spin,” alluding to Thomas’ hit film version of the corny television series.

Twentieth prexy Tom Rothman and exec VP Sanford Panitch are overseeing the project for the studio.

Thomas and Topping also are attached as producers (and Thomas as director) on Paramount’s “Male Pattern Baldness.” The duo produced Sony’s current release “Can’t Hardly Wait.”

Though memorialized as a trashy tome, the book spent 65 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and has sold 19 million copies since it was published in 1966.

Fox’s remake comes on the heels of at least two pics about Susann, who died in 1974. Bette Midler is starring as the flamboyant superstar-author in “Isn’t She Great,” a Universal comedy scripted by Paul Rudnick, directed by Andrew Bergman and co-starring Nathan Lane as Susann’s publicist-manager-husband. The pic is currently lensing in New York and Montreal.

The USA Network is at work on “The Jacqueline Susann Story,” starring Michelle Lee and based on Barbara Seaman’s 1987 bio “Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann.”

Also in the works is Rhino Films’ remake of Russ Meyer’s 1970 “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.”

Thomas is repped by CAA.

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