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Woods gets ‘Rudy!’ vote

USA elects thesp as Giuliani in biopic

HOLLYWOOD — James Woods has inked to portray Rudy Giuliani in USA Networks’ two-hour telepic “Rudy!,” based on Village Voice journalist Wayne Barrett’s bio of the former Gotham mayor.

“Quality begets quality — and we couldn’t be more excited about James Woods coming on board,” Jeff Wachtel, USA executive veep of series and longform programming, said Wednesday. “The depiction of Rudy Giuliani requires an actor of complexity and intelligence — two words that are synonymous with Jimmy’s body of work.”

Word of the Woods casting comes just weeks after NBC announced impending production on a Giuliani biopic of its own, titled “Emperor of the City: The Story of America’s Mayor,” based on Andrew Kirtzman’s bestseller. However, USA’s tale has a leg up in the picture pipeline, with casting in full swing and a projected preem date set for sometime in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Love/hate relationship

Like Barrett’s book, made-for will recount the love/hate relationship between Giuliani and Gothamites before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as well as his emergence as a national hero in the aftermath of the catastrophe.

“Rudy!” is being penned by Stanley Weiser and will be produced by Carlton America in association with JAM Pictures — companies optioned the property and brought the project to USA, which then purchased the rights to the book. Carlton’s Stephen Davis, Gary Goldberger and Jody Brockway and JAM’s Jane Walmsley and Michael Braham, will serve as the movie’s producing team. No director is yet attached.

Woods’ strange encounter

Woods, a two-time Oscar nominee (“Salvador,” “Ghosts of Mississippi”) most recently starred in “John Q” and “Riding in Cars With Boys.” Ironically, he had a brush with the investigation of the suicide hijackers who crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last year. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, thesp notified the FBI of his encounter with four suspicious passengers on a cross-country flight a month earlier.

Upcoming projects for the actor include “Stuart Little 2” and “North Fork.”