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Gere stalks ‘Unfaithful’

Pic based on 1969 pic 'La Femme Infidel'

Richard Gere is in final negotiations to topline Fox’s Adrian Lyne-directed thriller “Unfaithful.”

Gere would play a husband whose lifeless marriage to an unfaithful wife is sparked with new passion — when he kills his wife’s lover. Pic is based on French director Claude Chabrol’s 1969 film “La Femme Infidel.”

Earlier, pic attracted the interest of such marquee names as George Clooney for the role now taken by Gere; other starring roles aren’t set. Studio is aiming to start production in December.

Gere has proved his continuing box office appeal in recent days with the performance of “Autumn in New York.” Pic’s opening weekend of $11 million was viewed by Hollywood as a solid performance for the romantic melodrama, beating expectations that the film might sink because MGM didn’t screen it for critics in advance of release. “Autumn” remained in the top 10 in its second week, but fell nearly 50% to about $5.7 million.

Arnold and Anne Kopelson are producing the film. Oscar winner Alvin Sargent penned the original draft of the script; William Broyles Jr. and Stephen Schiff did subsequent versions.

Exec Carla Hacken at the studio’s Fox 2000 unit, headed by Elizabeth Gabler, is overseeing the pic.

Gere is repped by ICM.

(Claude Brodesser contributed to this report.)

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