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Paramount giddy over ‘Mitty’

Goldwyn tries again on redo

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is headed to Paramount, with Jim Carrey playing the Danny Kaye role and Steven Spielberg directing.

The second substantial remake deal within the last month for Samuel Goldwyn Jr., pic will be developed for Carrey and Spielberg to do within the next 12 months.

DreamWorks could very well come along for the ride, as it is partnering with Paramount on “Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events,” a Brad Silberling-directed film that Carrey is toplining.

Paramount declined comment but a spokesman for Spielberg acknowledged that preliminary discussions are under way, as did Goldwyn.

Goldwyn has been a major part of the effort to mount “Guys & Dolls” as a musical at Miramax, to be produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the exec producers of “Chicago.” Goldwyn’s father produced and distributed the original “Mitty” and “Guys & Dolls.”

Goldwyn has been trying for nearly a decade to mount a proper remake of the 1947 comedy, in which Kaye played a timid fellow whose daydreams of being a swashbuckling hero were played out in fantasy sequences. Movie was based on a short story by humorist James Thurber.

Goldwyn recently settled a lawsuit with New Line and retrieved the pic rights after years of unfilled fantasy star-director pairings. Goldwyn originally chose New Line over a Jeff Katzenberg-led courtship at Disney, primarily because Goldwyn wanted Carrey, who’d just become a superstar off the New Line comedies “The Mask” and “Dumb and Dumber.”

Creative carousel

Goldwyn made Carrey’s first film, “Once Bitten,” which came before the comedian’s meteoric rise as a film star. Ron Howard came aboard to direct “Mitty,” then departed to direct “Ed TV.” Howard was followed by Carrey’s “Mask” director, Chuck Russell. Again, it never got beyond the fantasy stage.

The project then languished after the departure of the execs who championed it, Michael De Luca and Richard Saperstein. The recent effort to berth “Mitty” at Par came about after DreamWorks joined Par’s “Snicket” ticket and took a lead creative role.

Carrey and Spielberg have always wanted to do a film together, and they once flirted with “Meet the Parents.” The “Snicket” meetings led to talk about “Mitty,” and suddenly things began moving very quickly.

It is unclear whether Sam Goldwyn, Spielberg and Carrey would want to start fresh with “Mitty.” Several drafts were developed for Howard and Russell by such scribes as Peter Tolan, Chuck Russell, and Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel.

Sources said Goldwyn is not going to be as patient with superstar talent as he was the last time around. Both Spielberg and Carrey will be expected to make the film in the short term, probably by early next year.

Par has been led in its “‘Mitty”‘ quest by Goldwyn’s son John, who is chairman of the motion picture group.

High hopes

“I am very optimistic that it will happen at Paramount; I like Sherry (Lansing) and I’m very fond of her No. 2 executive,” Goldwyn said. “We are still working on the approach to the movie and there’s no deal on paper yet. I have always wanted to see this done with Jim.”

The CAA-repped Spielberg is set to direct Tom Hanks in the drama “Terminal,” and he’s due to reteam with Harrison Ford and George Lucas in a fourth Indiana Jones pic, which Frank Darabont scripted.

Carrey has been starring in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” for Focus, and then will follow playing the evil Count Olaf in the Silberling-directed “Lemony Snicket.” Carrey, who’s repped by Gold-Miller and UTA, will next be seen in the Tom Shadyac-directed “Bruce Almighty.”

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