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Peter Howitt, who last directed the Gwyneth Paltrow starrer “Sliding Doors,” has been entrusted with MGM’s financial thriller “Anti-Trust.”

MGM has signed Howitt to a holding deal on the pic, which looks likely to be the next outing for the writer-director, who made his helming debut on “Doors.”

Miramax, Paramount and Intermedia teamed in 1998 to co-produce and distribute the $10 million-budgeted romantic drama “Doors,” which went on to gross nearly $70 million worldwide.

MGM has identified “Anti-Trust” as one of its priority projects and is eyeing a February start on the pic, which springs from an original pitch by writer-director Howard Franklin (“The Man Who Knew Too Little,” “Someone to Watch Over Me”). The paranoid thriller is set amid the high-tech, big-dollar world of Silicon Valley.

Problems at work

“Anti-Trust” follows the travails of a young computer programmer who lands a job at a powerful Silicon Valley computer firm but soon discovers that his employer has a covert and ruthless way of dealing with antitrust problems.

Keith Addis, Nick Wechsler and Julia Chasman of Industry Entertainment are producing the pic, which originally was brought in under the United Artists banner (Daily Variety, June 22, 1998).

Howitt, a former actor, is repped by ICM’s Doug MacLaren and managed by Industry Entertainment’s Rosalie Swedlin.