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Ross catching ‘Brushback’

Having played tricks with color and reality in his directorial debut, “Pleasantville,” Gary Ross is looking to cross color and time lines once again, this time with 20th Century Fox’s Will Smith vehicle “Brushback.”

Ross is in talks to helm the pic about an arrogant, modern-day Major League Baseball star who, after getting knocked out by an errant pitch, awakens to find that he has been transported back to the Negro National League circa 1940, where he learns several life lessons.

The project, based on Eric Daniels’ screenplay, originally was optioned in 1995 by TriStar for John Singleton’s New Deal Prods. Smith and James Lassiter have been attached to produce the pic since Fox picked it up in 1997. Kevin Wade (“Meet Joe Black”) is penning a rewrite of the script. Wade, Ross and Smith are repped by CAA.

— Chris Petrikin

Miramax takes killing from ‘Tingle’

Is Miramax getting cold feet or is the Columbine High School massacre getting to it?

The minimajor just changed the name of “Killing Mrs. Tingle,” which is about a plot to kill a high school teacher, to “Teaching Mrs. Tingle.” Miramax pleaded no contest to any relationship to the deaths of 12 students, one teacher and two suicides at the campus in Littleton, Colo., last month.

“It’s not about killing a teacher. We call it a wicked comedy,” Miramax spokesman Andrew Stengel said. “It’s what ‘Nine to Five’ was to the working world, ‘Teaching Mrs. Tingle’ is to school.” Stengel claimed the company was thinking about the name change long before Littleton was anything more than a flyover city.

Pic, starring Helen Mirren in the title role, is set to open wide Aug. 20.

— Dan Cox