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January 2003
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SMITH GOES ROBOTIC

"Men In Black" franchise star Will Smith has signed on to star in the film "I, Robot," based on the Isaac Asimov short-story sci-fi series about a technophobic detective investigating a murder which may have been committed by a robot. Filming for the project is scheduled to start this spring.



SNIPES WILL BE JOHN DOE

Wesley Snipes has signed on to star in the title role of Revolution Studios' sci-fi action script tentatively titled "John Doe." The film marks the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Zak Penn who also wrote the script. "Doe" tells the story of a homeless man (Snipes) with severe memory loss. As he tries to recover his former life he discovers that he has superhuman abilities he can't explain. He also discovers that a relentless assassin who knows the secrets behind John Doe is out to kill him.



BLANKS HELMS RITUAL

"Urban Legend" director Jamie Blanks has made a deal to direct the supernatural thriller "The Ritual" for Tapestry Films. The project is currently casting and should start lensing early this year. The film centers on two undergraduates who cross the path of a group of co-eds who are practicing black magic in order to manipulate other students. Tapestry most recently produced the summer release "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" starring Ryan Reynolds and Tara Reid.



JONES AND NICHOLSON?

Orlando Jones is in talks to appear in an upcoming love-triangle comedy with Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves. No word yet on what role Jones will play.



CANNON DRUMS UP MORE BUSINESS

Nick Cannon star of "Drumline," Next up for the actor-comedian is the film "If You Were My Girl," an urban remake of the 1987 movie "Can't Buy Me Love," which also stars Vanessa Bell-Calloway, Christina Milian, and Steve Harvey.



JERKINS A HONEY

Grammy winning producer Rodney Jerkins has signed to write songs and produce the soundtrack for Universal Pictures' "Honey." Jerkins will also make his acting debut in the film, playing the role of record producer KMX. The stars Jessica Alba, Joy Bryant, Mekhi Phifer, and rapper Lil' Romeo. "Honey" is a music-driven coming-of-age drama about an inner-city woman (Alba) who fulfills her dream of becoming a successful video choreographer until an unforeseen setback causes her to discover greater satisfaction in creating dance with neighborhood kids.


KING MURDER REVISITED

Diana Stamm and her newly formed 4 Reel Entertainment have teamed with producers William J. Macdonald and Preston Holmes to tell what they feel is the real story behind the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in a feature film project titled "Codename: Zorro." The group will go out to studios and talent shortly. "Zorro," was the FBI's code name for King. The project mixes factual information with poetic license and is a conspiracy film about the murder surrounding King.



DMX IN THE CRADLE

When his daughter is kidnapped and held in exchange for priceless diamonds, the leader of a crew of highly skilled urban thieves (DMX) forges an unlikely alliance with a Taiwanese Intelligence officer (Jet Li) to rescue her. Their race against the clock to find the precious stones ultimately unravels a plot to distribute a deadly new weapon of war. The filming is completed and is set for release in February 2003.



WOODBINE IN DETONATOR

Bokeem Woodbine has just finished filming "Detonator," about a former FBI agent who must stop a madman from setting off a bomb. The film costars Randall Batinkoff, Adam Lieberman and Elizabeth Berkley. The film is in the can but no release date has been set.



FREEMAN DREAMING

Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, and Tom Sizemore costar in the sci-fi, horror film "Dreamcatcher," about four troubled childhood friends who reunite for a camping trip but encounter a stranger in the woods who has knowledge of an alternate and deadly world - that the four friends will soon see. The film is set for release in April 2003.



FOXX ON TV GANG

Jamie Foxx is set to star in the television movie "Redemption: The Stan 'Tookie' Williams Story," on the FX Network. The made-for-TV movie is about the founder of the Crips gang and chronicles his life, his time as a death row inmate, and his work to end gang violence -- which brought him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2001.



MO’NIQUE IN GIRLZ CLUB

ESony’s Screen Gems studio is set to produce the urban comedy feature "Phat Girlz," with "Antwone Fisher's" Todd Black producing. Mo'Nique is in negotiations for the lead. "Girlz" is slated for a late-spring start. The project will mark the second teaming for Mo'Nique and Screen Gems. Mo’Nique starred in Screen Gems current release "Half Past Dead."



GLOVER/
GOLDBERG JUMPING FENCES

Showtime's Sundance Film Festival selection "Good Fences," starring Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg (who are also the producers) and Monique is set for a TV release later in 2003. The film is about an upwardly mobile black family living the American dream as a nightmare. Set in the ‘70s, Danny Glover is an attorney who wants to end what he calls "the colored man's losing streak." When a high-profile case thrusts him into the limelight, he decides to moves his wife (Whoopi Goldberg) and their two kids out of their mixed lower-middle-class town and into the posh enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut.



CHEADLE GETS SIMPLE

Don Cheadle has joined the ensemble cast of the New Line Cinema film "The Other Side of Simple." The cast includes Hayden Christensen, Vince Vaughn, and Rapper Method Man. "Simple" follows two thieves who return to their Midwestern hometown after a long absence and attempt to use a slow-witted younger brother of one of the thieves as a patsy in their criminal plan.



CEDRIC GETS LAST CHANCE

Cedric the Entertainer is in negotiations to share the screen with box office giant Arnold Schwarzenegger for the buddy flick "Joe's Last Chance." Schwarzenegger would star in the film as a hit man who changes his attitude after the hit man he's hired, played by Cedric, ends up saving his life.



DIESEL BACK TO PITCH BLACK

Writer-director David Twohy has signed for as many as three more Vin Diesel "Pitch Black" sequels, starting with "Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick." Twohy said, "Vin wanted a franchise and when Fast and the Furious didn't happen for him, we pitched this to the studio and they went for the idea of not just one but up to three follow-ups. We'll give Riddick multiple adversaries on different levels. We think of Pitch Black like Mad Max was to Road Warrior, or The Hobbit was to Lord of the Rings. They were places to find one of your characters, enabling you to take them to different places in subsequent films." The Chronicles of Riddick is expected to start shooting by the end of the year.



FUGUA TO DIRECT KING ARTHUR

Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) is set to direct producer Jerry Bruckheimer's epic retelling of the legend of "King Arthur." The Disney project, is a demystified look at the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table that focuses on the history and politics of the period, the collapse of the Roman empire, and skirmishes over power. The film was scripted by Oscar-winner David Franzoni (Gladiator) and John Lee Hancock (The Alamo), and starts filming this spring. Fuqua's next release is the Bruce Willis action flick, "Tears of the Sun." He is also attached to direct "Strangers," a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic "Strangers on a Train."



RHAMES HAS IMPOSSIBLE MISSION

Ving Rhames will reprise his role as Luther Stickell in "Mission Impossible 3." Tom Cruise is also on board to costar as Ethan Hunt. Filming is set to start in 2003 and the release date is scheduled for sometime in 2004. Rhames has also just rapped filming of "Envy" about a man who becomes increasingly jealous of his friend's newfound success. "Envy" will be released in July 2003.



CANNON BACK TO SCHOOL

After his star turn in "Drumline," Nick Cannon is set to star in and executive produce "The Underclassman," described as "Beverly Hills Cop" meets "Never Been Kissed." The actor will star as a 24-year-old detective with schoolboy looks who never gets any respect among his peers, who constantly send him on petty assignments. When he is sent to go undercover at an elite private school, he stumbles upon an international stolen-car ring involving some of the students.



LEWIS AN ALIEN HUNTER

Carl Lewis will costar with James Spader, Janine Eser, and Keir Dulleain the sci-fi flick "Alien Hunter." The film is currently in post-production and we may see it on screen later in 2003.



BERNIE MAC A BAD SANTA

Bernie Mac will costar with Billy Bob Thornton, John Ritter, and Cloris Leachman in "Bad Santa." The story is about two conmen who go on a road trip to malls dressed as Santa and his elf. Rather than spreading good cheer, the duo's motive is to rob each establishment, a strategy that becomes complicated when they encounter an 8-year-old who teaches them the true meaning of Christmas. Currently in post-production, this will obviously be a Xmas offering for 2003.



FREEMAN GETTING BOUNCED

Despite director George Armitage's sudden illness, which caused filming in Hawaii to be temporarily suspended, the crime thriller "The Big Bounce" costarring Morgan Freeman, Owen Wilson, Gary Sinise, Kris Kristofferson, and Charlie Sheen is back to filming and looks to be released sometime in September, 2003.



JACKSON/
JUDD TEAM FOR BLACKOUT

Samuel L. Jackson and Ashley Judd are teamed along with Andy Garcia for the film "Blackout." The thriller follows a female police detective on a case where she discovers all the murder victims are her past boy friends. The filming has been completed and is set for a September 2003, release.



LATANYA FIGHTING TEMPTATION

LaTanya Richardson costars with Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyoncé Knowles, Wanda Williams, and Mike Epps in "The Fighting Temptations." A New York advertising executive travels to a small Southern town to collect an inheritance but finds he must create a gospel choir and lead it to success before he can collect. The film is set for release in August 2003.



BURTON CAUGHT IN BLIZZARD

Levar Burton is directing "Blizzard" about a young girl's aunt who tells her the tale of a young ice skater and an enchanted reindeer. Whoopie Goldberg gives voice to the Blizzard and Brenda Blethyn, Brittany Bristow, Josh Buckle, Christopher Plummer, and Kevin Pollak costar. A release date is still pending.



MORGAN FREEMAN IS GOD

Morgan Freeman will play God in the film "Bruce Almighty," about a guy (Jim Carrey) who complains about God so often that God gives him almighty powers for 24 hours to teach him how difficult it is to run the world. The film looks to be in theaters in May 2003.




HEAVY D GETTING RUSTY

Hip Hop music artist Dwight 'Heavy D' Myers is currently filming "Dallas and Rusty" along with Scott Caan, Jeff Goldblum, Shawn Hatosy, and Kelly Lynch The film follows two city kids who get into trouble. One tries to go straight, the other doesn't. No release date is set yet for 2003.



HARPER EATING BONES

Hill Harper, Marlyne Afflack, Mark Taylor, and Kai Soremekun star in the sexy urban comedy "Eating The Bones," about how a guy who is addicted to watching pornography but discovers real love is stronger than fantasy. "Bones" is scheduled for a Canadian release in September 2003.