‘Jinx’ nixed by MGM

Halle Berry will not, after all, be donning the orange bikini again as Jinx, the American superspy from the recent James Bond movie “Die Another Day.” Much to the apparent dismay of Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson at Eon, MGM has nixed their planned spin-off movie featuring Berry’s character, which was due to be made before the next Bond pic. “Jinx” was being written by Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Rob Wade, and was due to be directed by Stephen Frears (though that had not been announced). But last week MGM told Eon to put the project on ice and press ahead instead with Bond 21, due to shoot in 2005. Eon is clearly furious — “there were creative differences,” says a spokesperson acidly. But curiously, Eon is making no apparent effort to wrest “Jinx” from MGM and set it up at another studio.

Myriad stages “Piccadilly” circus

Myriad Pictures has brokered the financing for the Mission Pictures movie “Piccadilly Jim,” after the project’s original sales company Odyssey Entertainment dropped out.

The $15 million P.G. Wodehouse comedy starts shooting in November. It stars Sam Rockwell, Tom Wilkinson and Amanda Peet, directed by John McKay from a Julian Fellowes script.

Universal Pictures Intl. has pre-bought all rights in the U.K., Australia, South Africa, Latin America and France, for theatrical distribution via UIP. The deal is a split between minimum guarantees for certain territories and direct distribution in others, giving co-producers Myriad and Mission the chance of significant upside if the film performs.

That innovative arrangement was put together by Myriad’s London office under head of international production Marion Pilowsky. She also brought in equity financiers Inside Track and the Isle of Man Film Ltd to complete the funding.

This is the second time this year that Myriad’s new London production arm has remounted a movie that another financier let fall. It rescued the Marc Evans horror pic “Trauma,” starring Colin Firth and Mena Suvari, after Pathe pulled out.

In “Piccadilly Jim,” Rockwell plays an American rogue on the loose in 1930s London, desperately trying to clean up his reputation in his quest to win the heart of the girl of his dreams (Peet). Wilkinson is her disapproving father.

The pic will be produced by Andrew Hauptman, Peter Czernin and Graham Broadbent for Mission, with Pilowsky and Myriad’s L.A. based topper Kirk D’Amico as exec producers.

Curtis is all around

Richard Curtis may seem like a nice man, but anyone who inflicts the tune “Love Is All Around” upon the British people, not once but twice, must have a sadistic sense of humor.

The Wet Wet Wet single from “Four Weddings and a Funeral” spent 15 awful weeks at number one, so long that the band begged people to stop buying it. Now a new seasonal version, “Christmas Is All Around,” sung by ageing rocker Billy Mack with a video directed by Curtis, is being released Dec. 15 to tie-in with his latest movie, “Love Actually” (short for “Love actually is all around,” natch).

This is an elaborate and, it must be admitted, inspired practical joke. Mack is a character from the movie, played by Bill Nighy, who records “Christmas Is All Around” with off-key gusto in a desperate bid to resurrect his heroin-ravaged career with a Christmas number one. He publicly denounces the song as “crap,” but begs people to buy it anyway, just to stop boyband Blue from topping the charts at Christmas. Needless to say, he gets his wish.

Out in the real world, and by no coincidence whatsover, the song is being released on exactly the same day as Blue’s actual Christmas single. So will the British public fall for this satirical bit of mischief? Nighy is a 16/1 outsider for the Christmas number one spot, with Blue at 8/1. But given the inevitable hugeness of “Love Actually” and Curtis’ Midas touch, it might just be worth a bet.

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