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Smith, Houston set to remake ‘Diva’

Cleveland attaches as scribe

Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Universal Pictures-based Overbrook Entertainment has secured the remake rights from Canal Plus Image to Jean-Jacques Beineix’s 1981 thriller “Diva.”

Pic will be made as an Overbrook Ent. and Brownhouse Production — Whitney Houston’s company. Producers are Smith, Lassiter, Houston and Debra Chase.

Houston is attached to play the diva, while the lead role is still up for grabs.

The scribe, recently hired, is Rick Cleveland, who is expected to turn in a first draft by May.

Universal exec is Leonard Kornberg, senior veep of production. Overbrook’s exec veep, Bradford Smith, will oversee for the shingle.

Last week, Universal plucked the 1949 comedy “Kind Hearts and Coronets” from Canal Plus Image, which owns the Ealing library (Daily Variety, Jan. 27).

Smith had been pursuing the rights to the project for several years; once Diana Ross’ option to the film lapsed a year and a half ago, Canal Plus Image entered into talks with Smith. That deal closed early this week.

Canal Plus acquired Ealing library in 1996 as part of the UGC library acquisition. That library contains more than 600 English-language pics, with in excess of 5000 titles including “The Graduate,” “Bob Le Flambeur” and “The Tenth Victim” — all of which are being adapted. Canal Plus, in partnership with manager John Reed, will stage “The Graduate” beginning April 5 in London, starring Kathleen Turner.

Canal Plus Image’s Ron Halperin brokered on behalf of the company.

Smith is repped by CAA.

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