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Oedekerk brings ‘Ripley’ back to life

Carry, Burton still on board with film

Paramount Pictures has resurrected shelved pic “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!,” hiring Steve Oedekerk to overhaul the script.

Remaining in place are Jim Carrey as Ripley and Tim Burton as director, both of whom approved Oedekerk.

Studio is eyeing a winter 2008 production start in China and a 2009 release date.

One of the most ambitious and pricey pictures hatched by the new Paramount regime, “Ripley’s” was postponed (Daily Variety, June 13) months before its fall production start. Execs made that move because they faced the prospect of a China shoot with a budget north of $150 million, when Burton and especially Carrey were still coming up with ideas that necessitated a significant rewrite of the script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

Oedekerk, who’ll be paid a seven-figure fee, has long been a Carrey go-to-guy. They began collaborating on “In Living Color,” and Oedekerk wrote and directed “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” and scripted “Bruce Almighty.” Oedekerk most recently scripted the Tom Shadyac-directed “Evan Almighty,” starring Steve Carell.

Carrey hatched many of the creative ideas that will broaden the emphasis from his Robert Ripley character to some of the wonders he uncovered for his “Believe It or Not!” column.

Armed with a new take that has been approved by the studio, Oedekerk will work to ramp up the spectacle factor for a budget comparable to the original.

When Paramount applied the brakes to “Ripley’s,” Burton moved on to direct Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd,” a DreamWorks adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical that Paramount will distribute for Christmas, 2007.

The delay came as Carrey was coming off the cancellation of “Used Guys,” and watched his subsequent assignment, “A Little Game,” get scrapped.

Fox unplugged “Used Guys” because neither the studio nor director Jay Roach were convinced the film would come in on a $105 million budget, and there were no pay-or-play deals with Carrey or Ben Stiller that would have made it prohibitively expensive for Fox to punt.

“A Little Game” came unglued when Cameron Diaz exited after reading a rewrite done by director Gabriele Muccino under the supervision of Focus Features topper James Schamus. Muccino ankled, and Carrey followed suit.

Oedekerk is repped by WMA.

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