NO BABS FOR “MAME”: Though expectations were high that Barbra Streisand might play the title character in the ABC adaptation of the 1966 Broadway musical “Mame,” Streisand has officially advised the network she’ll only be involved in the project as producer. Hopes were high for Streisand’s involvement, but she has just decided it was not to be. The pic, to be directed by Rob Marshall, is being exec produced by Storyline Ent. partners Craig Zadan and Neil Meron with Streisand and her Barwood Films partner Cis Corman. They’ll move to casting a big star for the musical — Cher is on the short list — in hopes of getting it ready by sweeps 2001.
RAPPER FOR “TRAINING DAY?”: On the subject of casting: Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures are trying to land rapper Eminem to play the villain in “Training Day,” the Denzel Washington-Ethan Hawke drama being directed by Antoine Fuqua.
CURSE CURE, AT A PRICE: The “Man on the Moon” team of Universal, Jersey Films and producers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski have turned their dark sensibilities toward baseball. They’ve bought for low- against mid-six figures the unpublished novel “Screwballs” and a movie pitch by playwright Mark Haskell Smith for a black comedy Jersey partner Danny DeVito might direct and possibly star in, with Alexander and Karaszewski producing.
Based on a book by Dave Farrell, the story revolves around the famed futility of the Boston Red Sox. A pitcher who joins the team proves to be unbeatable. Trouble is, when the team goes on the road, a brutal murder takes place in each city, and it soon becomes clear that the pitcher is good at retiring more than just hitters. The manager — a role DeVito might play — has to decide whether the pennant is worth the price.
Smith previously adapted the John Gotti pic “Gangland” at Columbia, and his deal was made by Jordan Bayer and Matt Leipzig at Original Artists. The agents, who partner on TV business with the Rothman Agency, have also made a blind deal for Smith to create a series with Alliance Atlantis.
SHORT FOR MINI-ME: Short parodies of famous films have become a proven shortcut for aspiring filmmakers, and the latest to take that route are actor-turned-writer/director Andy Berman and producer Jonathan Hyman. They’ve targeted “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and got “Austin Powers 2” star Verne Troyer and vet thesp Phil Fondacaro to play Oompa Loompas.
“Bit Players” is a bittersweet comedy about the limitations facing vertically challenged actors like Troyer. In the short film, Troyer reconciles playing the Oompa Loompa role with his real passion, learning dialogue from “The Glass Menagerie” in hopes that he’ll get a shot at some real acting. Fondacaro pours water on his pal’s dream after having suffered through the inevitable typecasting for someone his size.
While there are a few fun references to “Wonka” and the film business in general, the parody is deeper than most of its one-joke predecessors. “What intrigued us was the writing, and the fact we got to act and have our characters play off each other,” said Troyer. “The way it’s written is the way it was for the little people in ‘Willy Wonka’ back then and the way it is now,” said Fondacaro. “They only want you for a specific thing, always around holiday time. You’re playing an elf at Christmas, a leprechaun at St. Patrick’s Day. That’s all that’s out there.”
Fondacaro, a vet of 20 films like “Willow,” has become a mentor to Troyer, who, while waiting for Mike Myers and director Jay Roach to get going on another “Austin Powers,” just completed a film called “Thunder Doyle,” about a boxer who befriends a little person.
“Verne and I are in a position to say, if it’s not a really good piece, we don’t do it, but the roles are so few that there’s a temptation to say, ‘I don’t care what it is, pay me and I’ll do it.”
The short was bought by iFilm, which showed it in an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run before bowing it on the Internet. Berman and Hyman hope to move on to features, while Troyer and Fondacaro struggle with the realities evident in the short comedy.
“LIBRIUM” GETS VILLAIN: Angus Macfadyen (“Braveheart”) has taken the lead villain role in the Kurt Wimmer-directed and scripted “Librium,” joining Christian Bale, Emily Watson and Taye Diggs in the thriller about a futuristic society devoid of emotion. Macfadyen, who’s repped by ICM’s Tracy Brennan, controls the repressive society in a film produced by Jan DeBont and Lucas Foster’s Blue Tulip label.
“FREDDIE” GOT A GIRL: Marisa Coughlan has landed the female lead opposite Tom Green in the New Regency comedy “Freddie Got Fingered.” she plays a sexually-charged, wheelchair-bound rocket scientist. Coughlan is best known for starring in the Kevin Williamson pic “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” and his short-lived series “Wasteland.” She just completed the female lead in Jersey Films’ “Super Troopers” and she’s repped by ICM.