FOX HAS HOOKED DOUGRAY Scott to play the lead role of Wolverine in “X-Men,” the Bryan Singer-directed adaptation of Marvel’s bestselling comic book.
Scott X’d a contract including a sequel option, with Fox brass confident the Scottish actor can become a franchise lead. Scott became the lead contender last month (Daily Variety, May 27) , despite being known only for the prince role in “Ever After.” Fox president Tom Rothman called him ferocious in “Twin Town,” and said he has the necessary edge to play the brooding buttkicker with the razorsharp claws.
“Bryan was incredibly demanding over who could play the character, and we needed to find somebody who was dynamic,” said Rothman. “Dougray has the charisma, the physicality and the intensity.”
Scott, now playing the villain in the “Mission: Impossible” sequel, joins Ian McKellan, playing the villain Magneto, and Patrick Stewart, playing Professor X, who leads the troupe of mutant superheros. To keep an f/x-heavy budget reasonable, they’re casting newcomers for other roles, such as 7-foot-tall wrestler Tyler Mane to play Sabertooth.
Filming starts in September, the moment Scott wraps the “Mission: Impossible” installment. The “X-Men” film was scripted by Ed Solomon, with a rewrite by Singer’s “Usual Suspects” accomplice, Chris McQuarrie. Lauren Shuler Donner produces with Ralph Winter and will be exec produced by Marvel’s Avi Arad. Scott’s repped by UTA.
DISNEY HOPS ON “BUNNY” TALE: Disney has optioned the Kathryn Leigh Scott book “The Bunny Years” for a feature tale built around the fabled Playboy Bunnies, those scantily clad waitresses in the chain of clubs in its ’60s heyday. Harry and Mary Jane Ufland will produce.
The book focused on Scott’s experiences as a 19-year old bunny who broke in with Gloria Steinem and Lauren Hutton, as well as 150 other bunnies she interviewed. While Steinem came away from her bunny stint convinced the girls were being exploited and demeaned, Scott had the opposite experience. While the bunnies were a well-rounded bunch in an obvious way, they also developed into formidable career women. Scott became an original “Dark Shadows” star before launching the publishing imprint Pomegranate Press. Others hopped off the bunny trail to careers as racehorse breeders, scientists, restaurateurs, supermodels and actresses, an opera singer and Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry.
“The film will tell the story of three women who were bunnies in New York in 1963 and later achieved enormous success and were reunited after 35 years through a most unusual, funny and moving set of circumstances,” said producer Harry Ufland, who adds this to an array of Disney-based pics including “The Inside Man,” a vehicle for director Michael Mann and Leonardo DiCaprio, which Mann scripted, and a biopic of Italian financier Michele Sindona with Martin Scorsese and Nick Pileggi. Scott has also turned her book into an A&E special airing June 27, which she co-produced.
THE BELZ IS RINGING: After writing the conspiracy theory book “UFOs, JFK and Elvis” for Ballantine, Richard Belzer has conspired with manager Eric Gardner and the Baltimore Spring Creek producing team of Barry Levinson and Paula Weinstein to turn his four-week book tour into a feature documentary.
“We thought it would be fun to have a cameraman along, be a fly on the wall for everything from the plane rides, meals, all through the tour,” said Gardner of Panacea Entertainment. They then enlisted Levinson, with whom Belzer grew close after seven seasons of “Homicide,” and his partner Weinstein. “There’s several possible permutations, but the hope is a feature that might play the festival circuit,” said Gardner.
Belzer is serious about his conspiracy beliefs, but the film will also include his legendary standup work and will have a humorous edge. Belzer is expected to segue from the freshly flatlined “Homicide” to “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” this fall, reprising his character Det. John Munch.
HOOP DREAM: Sanaa Lathan has scored the co-starring role alongside Omar Epps and Alfre Woodard in “Love and Basketball,” the Spike Lee-produced New Line pic about college basketball players who fall in love and try not to let the romance sidetrack their hoop dreams. Lathan, who wrapped roles in “The Best Man” and “The Wood,” is the daughter of veteran TV director Stan Lathan. She’s repped by William Morris’s Niki Mirisch, manager Emily Gerson Saines and attorney Michael Gendler.
DISHINGS: Vanessa Williams, last seen on Broadway in “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” is looking for a return, and Dish hears it could be the musical “Wild Party” … Paula Devicq, who’s re-emerged on “Party of Five” after being proposed to by Matthew Fox in the recent finale, has segued from Off Broadway’s “The Stumbling Tongue” to “Bob Funk,” a play at the Tamarind Theatre in L.A. She’s also in “Runaway Bride” and stars opposite Luke Wilson in “Kill the Man” this fall for Rogue Pictures. She’s agented by William Morris and managed by Joanne Horowitz … Todd Louiso, memorable as the new-age nanny from “Jerry Maguire,” is John Cusack’s best pal and employee in “High Fidelity,” the comedy based on the Nick Hornby novel which Stephen Frears directs from a script by Cusack and writing partners Steve Pink and D.V. deVincentis. Louiso, a semiregular on “Chicago Hope,” is repped by Silver/Massetti/Szatmary and manager Robert Redlich … Noah Fleiss will join Glenn Close, Kathy Baker and Holly Hunter in the Avnet/Kerner pic “Things You Can Tell by Looking at Her.” Fleiss, next seen opposite Val Kilmer and Ethan Hawke in Trimark’s “Joe the King,” is repped by ICM’s Stephanie Ritz and managed by Lee. T. Gange and Denise Simon at Fox Albert Management.