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WB’s ‘Scooby’ gets live-action greenlight

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. has set a February start date for “Scooby-Doo,” the live-action adaptation of the cartoon series, with Raja Gosnell signed to direct. Pic, which will cast up quickly, will shoot in Australia.

The film, about a band of ghost-chasing sleuths and the cowardly dog who often stumbles into the pertinent clue, is based on a script by James Gunn, with Chuck Roven producing.

The series has been a long-running hit revived by the Cartoon Network, a marvel considering that the plotline of every episode is the same: the kids — Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy– and canine Scooby arrive in their van, get chased around by a supposed spook, then unmask the baddie pretending to be the spirit, werewolf or whatever. The predictable finale of each episode was parodied by Mike Myers in “Wayne’s World,” and Myers once intended to play Shaggy in the movie, though that has gone by the wayside. Meanwhile, animated pic “Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders” was just released in direct-to-video fashion.

Gosnell, who directed “Home Alone 3” and the Drew Barrymore comedy “Never Been Kissed,” had been courted for “Scooby” duty as well as a “Fantastic Four” film at Fox. Late last week, he chose the WB pic, which is viewed by the studio as a potential feature franchise. It’s being shepherded by exec veep Rob Guralnick.

FROM ‘RINGER’ TO ‘WHORE’: Conundrum Entertainment, which recently landed Barry Blaustein to direct the Ricky Blitt script “The Ringer” — about two guys who conspire to fix the Special Olympics, with one posing as a participant — are continuing in the irreverent Blitt business. Conundrum partners Bobby and Peter Farrelly and Bradley Thomas have made a mid- against high-six figures deal with Fox for the Blitt-pitched comedy “Whore Out of Water.”

Though the plotline of the comedy’s being kept a closely guarded secret, the title conveys that a sexier version of “Splash” may be in the offing. The Conundrum troika will produce, while John Jacobs will exec produce. Blitt was repped by ICM’s Nick Reed and Nicole Clemens. Fox’s Hutch Parker and Josie Rosen will supervise the project.

SEGA’S ZOMBIES GO BIGSCREEN: Mindfire Entertainment is conspiring with Sega to turn its topselling videogame and arcade series “The House of the Dead” into a zombie-laden live-action feature with a young cast, squarely aiming for the “Scream” crowd.

Deal, confirmed by Mindfire CEO Dan Bates, puts another big vidgame into the Hollywood pipeline, following Paramount’s screen version of “Tomb Raider,” starring Angelina Jolie. The film “House of the Dead” will follow the game’s setup, where genetic research leads to the creation of zombies who imperil the future of the human race. “There is an incredible international brand awareness for this title, and coupled with its compelling storyline and amazing visuals, ‘The House of the Dead’ has a built-in audience for a live action feature,” Bates said.

Pic, to be scripted by Dave Parker and Mark Altman, will be produced by Mindfire Millennium, a division to be devoted to turning vidgames and comics into features and TV. Mindfire produced the Rob Lowe starrer “The Specials” and “Free Enterprise.”

MORE ‘DUNE’: Robert Gottlieb’s Trident Media Group has made a seven-figure publishing deal with Tor Books for Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson to hatch a three-book prequel to “Dune,” the novel series written by Brian’s late father, Frank Herbert. Gottlieb repped the writers and the estate in the new deal (the duo just delivered the third book in the first installment of the prequels) and will sell foreign rights at Frankfurt. Generating momentum for the series is the Sci Fi Channel’s mini adaptation of “Dune.”

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