Shankman sues J.Lo over ‘Carmen’

Helmer's suit states papers were never signed

This article was corrected on May 20, 2003.

“Wedding Planner” director Adam Shankman has sued Jennifer Lopez for $5 million for allegedly cutting him out of a remake of “Carmen” the singer-actress is developing at Universal.

Shankman got his big break when he was tapped to direct 2001’s “The Wedding Planner,” which also was important for Lopez’s career by demonstrating she could open a romantic comedy.

A source in the Lopez camp described their relationship while making “Wedding Planner” as “very good.”

U had no comment on whether the suit would impact the development of “Carmen,” which studio sources said is close to hiring a director.

In the Bizet biz

Shankman’s suit claims that while the two were working on “Wedding Planner” in 2000, he pitched Lopez on “the idea of developing, producing and directing a feature film based on an updated, modernized version of the classic opera ‘Carmen.’ ”

After Lopez agreed to work on the project that Shankman would direct — though the suit says papers were never signed — a writer was hired, potential male leads were approached (including Antonio Banderas), and Shankman pitched the film to studio execs, the lawsuit says.

In late 2000, Shankman claims, “Defendants. . . terminated any and all further discussions” with him on “Carmen,” and a year later he learned that Lopez had set up a similar project with Universal and had hired Craig Pearce to write a new script.

Shankman, who claims to have read Pearce’s “Carmen” script, says in his suit that it “incorporates the core of Plaintiff’s original ideas.”

Lopez rep Alan Nierob directed questions to her attorney, Barry Hirsch, who had not responded Sunday.

Nierob did say, “I think it’s amusing that anyone can claim worldwide rights to ‘Carmen.’ ”

Shankman’s suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 2, also names as defendants Lopez’s manager Benny Medina, his company Handprint Entertainment, producer Julio Caro and his company Absolute Entertainment, which is currently developing “Carmen.”