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U to replant ‘Flowers’

Mini deal for 'Mary'

Continuing a recent move to exploit its film library that began with “The Mummy,” Universal has set up a remake of the 1964 Rock Hudson-Doris Day comedy “Send Me No Flowers,” which will be scripted by Jeremy Leven as a possible directing vehicle for Frank Marshall.

Pic, about a hypochondriac so convinced he’s dying that he sets out to find his wife a new mate, will be produced by Marc Platt, Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy. Both Platt and Kennedy-Marshall are U-based producers who happened upon the concept at the same time and decided to partner.

“When we got to Universal, one thing we did was comb through the catacombs, and we found this old movie that has a topic that’s perfectly relevant now,” said Marshall. “Every guy who’s 50 or over worries constantly about his heart, and the health food craze makes this the opportunity for a really funny comedy.” Marshall said that if the project comes together right, he’d like to direct it.

“I have been looking for a romantic comedy and it’s certainly a subject I can identify with, because I watch my heart, my cholesterol,” he said, adding that while he is not the scourge of carbohydrate-heavy craft services spreads, he does have a weakness for Krispy Kreme donuts.

Leven wrote “Don Juan DeMarco” and scripted the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller “The Notebook,” which Jim Sheridan hopes to direct at New Line.

He’s writing a script for the “Send Me No Flowers” redo supervised by Platt, Kennedy and Marshall, while Marshall moves to next direct the Scott Smith/

Jonathan Lemkin-scripted “The Expandables.” Platt is about to start production on the comedy “Legally Blonde” at MGM and “Josie and the Pussycats” at Universal.

U’s got some promising remake possibilities looming based on material in its library. “The Mummy,” a major hit last summer, has led to the currently shooting sequel and a planned prequel built around Dwayne Johnson, better known as WWF grappling champion the Rock. A remake of “Charade” has Jonathan Demme attached as director and Will Smith to star, while a remake of “Kind Hearts and Coronets” is being developed by director Mike Nichols from a script by Elaine May. A recent reading included Robin Williams, Will Smith, Connie Nielsen and Jada Pinkett Smith.

MARY’S MINI MANEUVER Margaret George, whose historical novel “Memoirs of Cleopatra” led to the Hallmark ABC miniseries “Cleopatra” with Timothy Dalton and Billy Zane, has turned her attention to another enduring woman, Mary Magdalene, and has inked a miniseries deal with Columbia TriStar and NBC. George has received high-six figures for “Mary, Called Magdalene,” the book she’ll publish in winter 2001 as the first in a three-book deal with Viking. The network’s made a deal with David Stevens to adapt George’s manuscript, eyeing a possible production start of early 2001. Stevens was Oscar nominated for “Breaker Morant” and Emmy nominated for writing “Merlin.” He’s also written “Queen” and the upcoming “Jackie, Ethel, Joan: The Women of Camelot” for NBC. The Mary Magdalene mini will be exec produced by Bernard Sofronski. George was repped by AMG/Renaissance’s Irv Schwartz in conjunction with literary agent Jacques de Spoelberch, and Stevens is repped by AMG/Renaissance.

HOUNSOU TAKES “FOUR FEATHERS” Djimon Hounsou is set to join Heath Ledger and Wes Bentley in the Shekar Kapur-directed pic “Four Feathers.” In the Miramax/Paramount co-production, Hounsou will play the tracker who guides Ledger through the Sudan in search of his missing friends and winds up aiding Ledger in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. Stanley and Bobby Jaffe are producing. Hounsou, who followed a starmaking role in the Steven Spielberg-directed “Amistad” with a strong turn in the Ridley Scott-helmed “Gladiator,” had to turn down a role in the Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” because the shooting schedule conflicted with that of “Four Feathers.”

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