Ryan ‘Hanging Up’; Kudrow courted

Keaton could direct, star in Col pic

NEW YORK — Meg Ryan has committed to star for director Diane Keaton in “Hanging Up,” a Columbia film about three sisters written by Nora and Delia Ephron from a semiautobiographical novel penned by the latter Ephron.

Now that Ryan has taken the lead, Columbia is eyeing “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow to play the sister, and trying to convince Keaton herself to play the oldest sibling.

Film, put together by Columbia production president Amy Pascal, is a comedy/drama concerning a trio of sisters who bond over their ambivalence toward the approaching death of their curmudgeonly father, to whom none of them was particularly close.

Nora Ephron originally intended to direct it herself, before she went off and directed her “Sleepless in Seattle” stars, Ryan and Tom Hanks, in “You Have Mail.” Ephron ultimately decided the film was a bit too close personally and that she would better serve the project as a producer, with Larry Mark and Bill Robinson.

Ryan last appeared in the hit Brad Silberling-directed romantic drama “City of Angels,” which Pascal developed while she ran Turner Pictures and before she took the reins at Columbia.

Keaton, who made her feature directing debut with “Unstrung Heroes,” signed on to direct “Hanging Up” after she completes co-starring with Warren Beatty, Garry Shandling and an ensemble cast in New Line’s “Town and Country.” Though she initially only agreed to play behind the camera, Keaton played the eldest sister part in the original script reading along with Kudrow and it sparked the studio’s attention in them both.

Kudrow recently starred for producer Mark in “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.”

The film will begin production in Los Angeles in January. Ryan is repped by ICM’s Steve Dontanville.

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