It’s slammer glamour for Mendel, U

Pic inspired by true events in Lithuania

This article was corrected on June 12, 2003.

Producer Barry Mendel has set up “Miss Captivity,” an ensemble comedy about a beauty pageant at a women’s prison, with Universal. Tea Leoni, who came up with the idea for the film, is set to take a role in the ensemble of beautified inmates.

Pic is inspired by a true story in which reality TV producers looking for a ratings bonanza held a beauty pageant in Lithuania, thinking it would lead to trashy catfight footage. Instead, the pageant ended up being beneficial for the prisoners.

“Captivity” will be set at a high-security prison in Texas.

“We all loved movies like ‘The Longest Yard’ and ‘Bad News Bears,’ and of course Tea was in ‘A League of Their Own,’ ” Mendel said, “and we were excited about the possibility of doing an unexpected comedy about a group of underdogs with five great roles for women.”

Leoni will produce along with Mendel and Alisa Tager, an exec at the Mendel shingle. Cynthia Mort will write the script.

Mendel is producing “The Life Aquatic,” Wes Anderson’s next film, to star Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Owen Wilson and Jeff Goldblum.

After “Aquatic,” Mendel’s next project is “The Prisoner,” an adaptation of the 1960s BBC spy drama. Larry Konner and Mark Rosenthal are penning the bigscreen adaptation.

Leoni is also set to appear in James Brooks’ next film, “Spanglish” (working title), due to shoot this fall.

Overseeing for U is production prexy Scott Stuber and senior VP Holly Bario. U picked up the project as part of its first-look pact with Mendel.

Leoni and Mort are both repped by UTA.

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