Cassavetes opens ‘Notebook’

Leven's adaptation to begin prod'n this summer

Hot off the New Line Cinema hit “John Q.,” Nick Cassavetes is set to helm another pic for the studio with the long-gestating but finally fast-tracked drama “The Notebook.”

Story revolves around a retired salesman who visits an old woman in a nursing home, each time taking a notebook off a shelf to read a story about two men vying for the same woman in 1940s North Carolina. It’s revealed that the patient is the woman in the notebook and the man reading it is the one who won her heart. However, it’s unclear which of the two men he is until the end.

“It’s a gigantic love story in the vein of ‘Wuthering Heights,’ ” Cassavetes said. “I think it’s something that everyone will be able to identify with.”

No stars are currently attached to Jeremy Leven’s adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller, but New Line hopes to begin production this summer.

Since New Line acquired the novel in 1995, it’s seen a number of would-be directors, including Steven Spielberg, Jim Sheridan and Martin Campbell.

Mark Johnson will produce the film, which is being shepherded by New Line exec VP Lynn Harris.