‘Pacifier’ pacifies director

Diesel pic to fill Shankman's helming gap

“Bringing Down the House” director Adam Shankman is set to direct Vin Diesel in “The Pacifier,” a family-oriented action film that will start shooting in April, in partnership between Spyglass and the Walt Disney Co. Shankman will follow that film by directing “Four Christmases,” the Spyglass film that got postponed when Sony encountered a yuletide logjam of films.

Shankman was prepping for a production start on the Matt Allen-Caleb Wilson-scripted “Four Christmases” until Sony found itself with too many Christmas presents under the tree. Director Joe Roth and Tim Allen committed to a Revolution Studios adaptation of the John Grisham novel “Skipping Christmas,” and it seemed unwise to make two films targeted for a holiday 2004 slot.

Spyglass partners Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber initially took back the project with the intention of setting it up quickly elsewhere. Instead, they’ve decided to return it to Sony, with filming to begin next fall for a holiday 2005 release with Shankman at the helm.

The shakeup didn’t hurt Spyglass or Shankman, as the director sparked to its pic “The Pacifier,” a Thomas Lennon-Robert Garent-script which Spyglass partners Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber had recently set at Walt Disney, with Diesel attached to play an undercover agent who botches a job protecting a scientist and tries to redeem himself by protecting the man’s kids.

In a scenario reminiscent of “Kindergarten Cop,” the tough guy agent discovers that child care is not an easy assignment. The role will show a softer side of Diesel, who’ll next be seen toplining Radar/Universal drama “The Chronicles of Riddick,” a sequel to the cult hit “Pitch Black.”

Birnbaum and Barber will produce with Spyglass’ Jonathan Glickman. Diesel’s partner, George Zakk, will exec produce with Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot and Derek Evans. UTA made Shankman’s deal.

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