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‘Eleven’ a fit for Pitt; Mark on ‘Honeymoon’

Brad Pitt is negotiating to join George Clooney in the Warner Bros. remake of “Ocean’s Eleven,” an ensemble comedy which Steve Soderbergh will direct.

Pitt has already met with the director, who will go back and beef up Pitt’s role. At the same time, numerous top stars are eyeing possible involvement in the star-studded ensemble, including Johnny Depp, Julia Roberts, Mike Myers and Luke and Owen Wilson. All would have to work for reduced freight in order to make the film for an affordable budget.

The comedy would be a decided diversion from the dark direction Pitt has headed in his past several roles. He’s also been talking with WB on the bleak drama “Urban Townies,” but it’s unclear whether that pic will get off the ground, as WB topper Alan Horn has been steadfast that it can’t cost more than $15 million, a figure less than Pitt’s acting fee on “Fight Club.” After that controversial pic opened to lackluster box office, Pitt rethought plans to do “Urban Townies” next. He wanted something more accessible to the mainstream, and “Ocean’s Eleven” fits that bill.

It wouldn’t likely be Pitt’s next film, since Soderbergh couldn’t start work at least until the fall, as he’s currently prepping “Traffic,” the Steve Gaghan script about the narcotics industry to be produced by Laura Bickford, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. The project, a comedy about a gang of friends planning to rob a casino, starred original Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. The studio’s looking to create a happening ensemble for the remake, with WB partnering with Village Roadshow Pictures. Jerry Weintraub produces, and the script was written by Stephen W. Carpenter and Ted Griffin.

“Ocean’s Eleven” is on course to be the second Rat Pack-related WB project with star potential. “Dino,” the Dean Martin biopic scripted by Nick Pileggi and director Martin Scorsese has Tom Hanks likely for the starring role, and a swarm of A-listers looming for showy small roles. Though there’s interest from a bunch of $20 million-a-pic actors, the film’s cast will be predicated on scheduling, and whether Scorsese goes forward with the Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer “Gangs of New York,” which still seems tenuous as a Disney-Miramax co-production. Pitt’s repped by CAA and managed by Basic Entertainment.

MARK TAKES A “HONEYMOON”: Columbia Pictures and producer Laurence Mark have reached an altared state for “Honeymoon,” a first novel by British scribe Amy Jenkins. The studio made a deal in which it pays $500,000 with performance bumps that could drive the purchase price to near $1 million for a romantic comedy that will be published in England by LittleBrown and debut in the U.S. shortly after. The novel revolves around a new bride on her honeymoon in New York who’s stunned to find herself right next door to another newlywed — the man who was the very first love of her life several years before. The displaced duo give in to the old heat and rekindle their romance at the expense of their new partners. They head to Mexico together and find that the romantic fantasy doesn’t measure up to reality. If the novel sounds like a highly filmable presence, it might be because Jenkins created the cult BBC series “This Life,” about the lifestyle of lawyers, and also wrote “Elephant Juice,” a comedy she’s produced for Miramax that stars Emanuelle Beart and is directed by Sam Miller. “I wanted to write a book, and this idea of two people meeting again on their wedding night seemed a good jumping off point for a story,” said Jenkins.

For Mark, the “Jerry Maguire” producer whose next film is “Hanging Up,” the book marks the second high profile lit purchase he’s made this month. He spent a comparable amount purchasing screen rights to the Robert Crais novel “Demolition Angel.” The book was brought in by Marks exec Jonathan King and will be shepherded by Col senior veep Ricky Strauss. Jenkins was repped in London by Tracey Hyde of Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.

DISHINGS: Tuesday’s “Pearl Harbor” contained a nugget that was hotly disputed. Dish reported that “Armageddon” went $40 million over its original $100 million budget. Insiders said that while an early budget was approximately that amount, the actual figure which got the green light was a bit higher, meaning the film wasn’t that much over budget.

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