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Inside Moves

Universal says Damon has 'Identity' for lead

Matt Damon has been offered “The Bourne Identity,” Universal’s adaptation of the Robert Ludlum bestseller that will be directed by Doug Liman.

While Damon had been considering a number of possible projects, including the DreamWorks pic “The Ninth Man,” sources said there is a strong likelihood that he will commit to the film and that it will begin production in the fall.

In the novel, his character washes up on an island near death from gunshot wounds, with no recollection of what happened, or even who he is. The man finds himself being hunted by a variety of bad guys, and also discovers he’s remarkably efficient at killing them. Not knowing whether he is a good guy or a bad one, he struggles to find his identity before the assassins find their mark.

The adaptation, being steered by exec veep Allison Brecker and prexy Kevin Misher, has been one of the highest-profile projects in the Universal arsenal, especially since Liman signed on. The project was strongly considered by Brad Pitt, but availability became a problem when he committed to the Tony Scott-directed “Spy Game” for Universal and Beacon. Pitt formally passed Wednesday evening, at which time the offer was made to Damon’s reps at CAA.

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Damon is working with director Jim Sheridan on an outline to see if they might team on a Fox 2000 adaptation of “I Know This Much Is True,” the bestselling Wally Lamb novel about a painter who cares for his dysfunctional and destructive twin.

— Michael Fleming

Willis makes waves to ‘Oceans 11’

I see famous people: Bruce Willis is in talks to join Jerry Weintraub’s “Ocean’s 11” at Warner Bros. The picture, being remade by WB-based Weintraub, is a remake of the 1960 Frank Sinatra starrer, which has George Clooney in the role previous occupied by Old Blue Eyes. Insiders say Willis is keen to work with helmer Steven Soderbergh. Conversations with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt are also ongoing.

— Claude Brodesser

IFilm ready to click with database

IFilm has apparently returned from the dot-com infested Cannes Film Festival with another acquisition in mind. The film portal and online entertainment business service is readying to close a deal to acquire database service Film Finders for an undisclosed amount of stock, industryites said. Talks had been taking place prior to Cannes.

While iFilm said no deal had officially yet been signed, sources close to the negotiations said an announcement would likely occur in the coming weeks after Film Finders execs Sydney Levine and Peter Belsito return from their traditional post-Cannes vacations.

Film Finders compiles databases of indie and major movie production schedules, cast, producers, financing, and territories in which films are distribbed. It now includes a database of more than 40,000 titles and has over 1,000 subscribers who pay $5,000 to $35,000 per year to receive quarterly reports on paper or on CD-ROM.

With annual revenues of more than $1 million, Film Finders is likely to provide a healthy source of revenues to iFilm, which is working to generate dollars beyond solely advertising.

Film Finders will likely be folded in under the iFilmpro.com banner and make its information available online to the entertainment players who use the business-to-business Web site.

Acquisition now leaves ShowBizData.com as one of the few online databases of production directories and film credits available for takeover by iFilmpro.com’s competitors — namely Creative Planet, WebEI, even database-hungry Inside.com.

Since January, iFilm has acquired six companies, including powerhouses the Hollywood Creative Directory and Lone Eagle Publishing.

— Marc Graser

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