Thomas warms Col ‘Xmas’

Lonely-guy script gets golden touch of Sternin, Ventimilia

Betty Thomas is in final talks with Columbia Pictures to direct and produce the comedy “Surviving Christ-mas.”

Thomas (“Dr. Dolittle,” “Private Parts”) will produce with partner Jenno Topping via their Tall Trees Prods. shingle, which has a first-look deal with Col. Thomas most recently directed the Sandra Bullock-starrer “28 Days” for the studio.

“Christmas” storyline centers on a lonely guy who essentially rents himself a family for the holidays. The initial draft was penned by the writing and helming team of Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (“Can’t Hardly Wait”) — but it was a complete re-write from Josh Sternin and Jeff Ventimilia that sold Thomas and Col exec veepee of production Matt Tolmach on the project.

Sternin and Ventimilia’s deal was brokered by the ICM tag team of TV lit topper Matt Solo and motion picture lit agents Mike Eisner and Nicole Clemens. Sternin and Ventimilia are exec producers of the Carsey-Werner Fox skein “That ’70s Show” and recently got their big feature break when they sold their spec “The Messiah Complex” — also to Sony, and again, with Thomas and Topping producing. Mike Judge will direct “Messiah.”

Col’s Tolmach and production veepee Andrea Giannetti are supervising “Christmas.”

Thomas was repped by CAA.

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