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A&E takes sci-fi spin with ‘Lathe’ telepic

Meanwhile, 'Lost Battalion' commissioned

NEW YORK — A&E has greenlit production on “The Lathe of Heaven,” an original telepic starring James Caan, Lukas Haas (“Mars Attacks”) and Lisa Bonet (“Enemy of the State”).

Based on the sci-fi novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, “Lathe” will be directed by Philip Haas (“Up at the Villa”) from a script by Alan Sharp (“Rob Roy”). “Lathe” will mark the director’s TV debut. The book was adapted once before for a 1980 TV movie that ran on PBS.

Dream weaver

Caan will star as Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist whose patient George Orr (Haas) has the ability to alter reality through his dreams. Bonet will portray Heather LeLache, Orr’s attorney and confidant.

Production on the two-hour telepic, which is skedded to premiere on A&E in late 2002, will begin next month in Montreal. A&E will co-produce “Lathe” with Alliance Atlantis.

Although “Lathe” marks A&E’s first venture into sci-fi territory, A&E senior VP of programming Allen Sabinson said the project isn’t much of a departure for the cable net.

“It’s really a think piece. It’s a more cerebral approach to science fiction, not based on technological wizardry,” said Sabinson, who is also exec producer along with Craig Baumgarten (“Nowhere to Run”).

‘Lost’ launching

Separately, A&E announced that it has commissioned “The Lost Battalion,” starring Rick Schroder, based on the true story of a WWI unit separated from its allies in German-occupied territory during the Battle of Argonne.

A co-production of A&E and Fox TV Pictures, the two-hour telepic will be directed by Russell Mulcahy (“Highlander”), based on a script by Jim Carabatsos (“Hamburger Hill”). The Gerber Co.’s David Gerber will exec produce, along with A&E’s Delia Fine.

“Lost Battalion” will start production next month in Luxembourg and will air in 2002. Sabinson said both projects will wrap before strike deadlines.

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