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Will Smith is in talks to star in a remake of “A Star Is Born” for Warner Bros., with the studio seeking to pair him with a major female singing star and add a new twist on the tale.

“Star” was first made in 1937 with Fredric March and Janet Gaynor, again in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason and in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

Those films featured a male star who discovers and falls in love with a young woman whose fame begins to eclipse his. The new version features a gender role reversal, with Smith as the young unknown who falls in love with a femme superstar. Her life is in danger as she lapses into substance abuse problems.

Smith tries to broaden his range with each film. This would be his first appearance in a love story and showcase his singing ability. The studio is eyeing a list of actress/singers on the order of Lauryn Hill.

WB is seeking a writer for the film, which will be produced by Jon Peters and James Lassiter. Peters produced the 1976 version with then-girlfriend Streisand. Peters is the producer of WB’s Smith starrer, “Wild Wild West,” and an upcoming Columbia biopic of Muhammad Ali, both directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Either Ali or “Star” could be Smith’s next.

Lassiter is Smith’s longtime manager and producing partner at Overbrook Entertainment. Neither would comment.

Smith, who toplines the Friday opener “Enemy of the State,” is repped by CAA.

FROM ‘BLUE’ TO BOARDS: “NYPD Blue” co-star Sharon Lawrence has joined the cast of the Mark Taper Forum production “Tongue of a Bird,” which runs Jan. 14 through Feb. 7. It’s a five-character play written by Ellen McLaughlin and directed by Lisa Peterson. Lawrence joins Cherry Jones, Diane Venora, Marion Seldes and Ashley Johnson in the story of an ace pilot (Jones) who searches for her abducted 12-year-old daughter through the snowy mountains of Maine. Lawrence plays the pilot’s mother, who appears as a ghost to guide her.

Lawrence, who has extensive theater experience including the Taper production of “Fire in the Rain,” just completed a role in the WB/Village Roadshow Pictures film “Gossip.” She’s managed by Joan Hyler and repped by ICM’s Joel Shire, Tracy Brennan and Nikki Pfeffer.

URBAN FILMS PROLIFERATING: While recent big-budget misfires have studio execs reeling, there is suddenly a boom market of urban films. The appeal? Comparatively low budgets, no gross players, and the chance for “Waterboy” opening grosses.

“Whenever the budget is lower than the industry average and caters to a young audience, the potential for upside is always greater,” said New Line president Michael De Luca, who has long supplemented slates with such hits as “Friday,” “Menace 2 Society” and “Set it Off.”

New Line’s got a wave of new projects. The studio just made a deal on “Superstar,” a drama spawned by “Ghetto Supastar,” a song used in the film “Bulworth.” The song was penned by Fugees member Pras, who’ll star. De Luca said the film’s about “a guy trying to break out of his neighborhood and become a recording star, and all the obstacles he encounters.”

The script was written by Robert Adetuyi, who’s repped by William Morris; the UTA-repped Pras will be joined in the film by his Fugees bandmates Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean, who are expected to play small roles. It will be the first go film from Madguy, the film shingle launched by Madonna and Guy Oseary, who runs her Maverick Records label.

De Luca also just bought the John Singleton-directed “Flow,” about the hip-hop music industry, by Cheo Hodari Coker and Richard Wesley, and is also developing “Knifehand,” a Jamal Joseph-scripted drama which DeLuca called “an inner-city ‘Shane,’ ” on which Don Cheadle will make his directorial debut for Jersey Films and Scott Frank.

New Line’s readying a sequel to “Friday” with a script by Ice Cube, who co-wrote the original hit, and has just set up “Love and Basketball,” a love story set around the world of hoops which Spike Lee will produce with first-time director Gina Prince.

New Line’s also working with producer Cary Woods’ Independent Pictures on “Life in a Minor Key,” the biopic of DeWitt White, an inner-city youth piano prodigy who became a Carnegie Hall-caliber musician who went on a downward spiral and was killed selling drugs. Jamal Joseph is writing that pic as well.

Other studios are catching on as well: Also on the fast track is “You Betta Watch Out,” the inner-city holiday fable that Reginald Hudlin will direct for Mandalay at Paramount with Kyle Baker writing; Fox 2000 is moving forward with “Ghetto Fabulous” with Nicole Jefferson directing a script by model Veronica Webb, and Warner Bros. and Witt-Thomas Films just hired writer Darin Scott to script the remake of “Cleopatra Jones.”

De Luca acknowledged there are commercial risks to this urban strategy. “Any film about a specific American experience, whether it’s inner-city or rural, has limitations,” he said. “But the films put you in touch with fresh talent, and if they’re good, they have the chance to cross over with young audiences. The video sales are tremendous, and just about every one of those films we’ve done has resulted in a platinum soundtrack.”