“Gladiator” co-writer John Logan has made a deal to write two high profile DreamWorks projects that likely will be directed by two of the studio’s toppers.
Logan will write a biopic of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln for DW partner Steven Spielberg to direct, and Logan also will script an untitled WWII project on which DW production head Walter Parkes will make his directorial debut.
Spielberg’s Lincoln project focuses on how the 16th U.S. president steered the country through the Civil War. Advising on the film will be historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who has been working on a Lincoln biography to be published by Simon & Schuster late next year. Parkes plans to make his fiction directing debut on the Logan-scripted untitled true story of a team of Allied commandos who fought the Germans on the Greek island of Symi during World War II. Under siege, the commandos sought refuge in a monastery of Eastern Orthodox monks. These unlikely allies help the soldiers overcome long odds in a pic that will be mounted in the spirit of “The Guns of Navarone” and “Bridge on the River Kwai.”
CAA booked Logan into the double DW deal after the scribe’s collaboration with David Franzoni and William Nicholson on “Gladiator,” followed by the Simon Wells-directed DreamWorks/Warner Bros. co-production “The Time Machine” and the currently in-production DW animated film “Sinbad.” That’s just part of the recent Logan run, which also includes scripting “Star Trek: Nemesis,” in production at Paramount, and “The Last Samurai,” the historical epic about the modernization of Japan and the eradication of the samurai, which Ed Zwick is directing for Warner Bros. Logan also scripted the Howard Hughes film Michael Mann plans to direct starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
NIC SADDLES “SONNY”: Nicolas Cage is ready to make his directorial debut on “Sonny,” a John Carlen-scripted drama being produced by Cage and his Saturn Pictures partner Norm Golightly. The pic shares the dark tones prevalent in “Leaving Las Vegas,” the film for which won Cage won his Oscar, and he’s looking for a twentysomething guy to star as a male hustler who joined the Army to escape the gigolo life. He’s discharged and stops home in New Orleans with the intention of getting a legit job. In his way is his mother, a flesh-peddling matriarch who wants him back in the family business. Saturn, which produced “Shadow of the Vampire” and the Alan Parker-directed Kevin Spacey starrer “The Life of David Gale,” will do the pic only if Cage and Golightly can lock cast and financing for the under-$5 million pic to shoot in January. The actor needs to finish in time to star next year in the Tarsem-directed WB pic “Constantine.”
‘T3’ AUCTION ACTION: The horse race for domestic rights to “Terminator 3” has changed, with Universal disappearing from the pack and DreamWorks shaping up as a dark horse. The pic seemed likely just two days ago to take a U-turn, but that studio has opted out, instead deciding it will have a strong enough summer 2003 with its Ang Lee-directed “The Hulk” starring Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly and Nick Nolte. DreamWorks, Disney (possibly through Dimension) and Paramount are still battling. “T3” has come a long way, given that two years ago, C-2’s Mario Kassar, Andy Vajna and Joel Michaels hired Tedi Serafian to script “T3” even though Arnold Schwarzenegger indicated at the time he wasn’t interested. The C-2 trio is producing “T3” with director Jonathan Mostow’s partner Hal Lieberman, and Intermedia should close a deal within days.
CASTINGS: “Dracula 2000” star Gerard Butler will star with LL Cool J and Clifton Collins Jr. in the Renny Harlin-directed Intermedia/Outlaw/Avenue film “Mindhunters,” a drama about recruits in the FBI psychological profiling division. The Scottish thesp, who starred in the USA mini “Attila,” also is starring in the Richard Donner-directed “Timeline” for Paramount, and next will be seen opposite Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale in the Rob Bowman-directed “Reign of Fire” … Shea Whigham, who starred for Joel Schumacher in “Tigerland” and the upcoming “Bad Company,” is starring alongside Patty Clarkson in the David Gordon Green-directed indie “All the Real Girls,” produced by Jean Doumanian. Gersh Agency and Ramos Management rep him … Alex Meneses has been cast in the Paul Schrader-directed “Auto Focus,” playing the ex-Playboy bunny temptress who sends “Hogan’s Heroes” star Bob Crane into the kinky side that became the focus of his life and led to his brutal murder. The Handprint-repped Meneses has recurring roles on “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Hughleys.”
SEEDING COMEDY: Comedy Central’s newly formed film division is into the spec game, buying “Meet Joe Simon, Mankind’s Last Hope” with an eye toward making it one of the web’s first homegrown films. The project was scripted by Josh Stolberg for the bigscreen, but studios haven’t been buying and Stolberg’s reps at Writers & Artists and Nine Yards found Comedy Central an aggressive alternative. The central character’s a loser who somehow becomes a stud when it is discovered he is the only male on the planet capable of reproducing. The guy tries to do his duty to womankind, a delicate matter since he has a steady girlfriend. Orly Adelson and Scott Immergut will produce, with David Klawans co-producing.
DISHING: Britney Spears isn’t the only famous person playing herself in “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” Dish hears that Danny DeVito, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey also filmed cameos this week in the New Line pic, due out July 26.