DODGING BULLETS The Wachowski brothers aren’t letting the possible SAG strike inconvenience the filming of Matrix 2 and 3, which will shoot back-to-back beginning later this winter: The directors are planning on building a hiatus — the length and timing are still undetermined — into the schedule. Nor, says a source close to the filmmakers, are they concerned that Warner Bros. has not yet greenlit the projects. ”There are always budget issues,” says the source, estimating that Warner Bros. has committed $50-60 million in preproduction and pay-or-play deals alone (Keanu Reeves earns a guaranteed $30 million). Still, the Wachowskis may have a backup: They’re interested in remaking Conan the Barbarian.
CASTING ABOUT Meg Ryan may sign on to Miramax’s Kate and Leopold, a time-travel romance about the relationship between an 18th-century nobleman and the female scientist who brings him into the future. James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted) will direct … Weird as it sounds, Ryan could be just the kind of girl that producer Brian Grazer wants for his biopic of Linda ”Lovelace” Boreman, the Deep Throat porn star. ”I haven’t found the right casting,” Grazer says. ”I want to trash up a really wholesome girl.” … New Line has resuscitated Iron Man, which was put into turnaround at Fox, where Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise were once attached to star; Tim McCanlies (The Iron Giant) will write the script, which a studio source describes as ”in the vein of James Bond/Jack Ryan, only with a superhero in the center.” Nick Fury, another Marvel character, will also be featured.
— Additional reporting by Thom Geier