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Reel World

News from Hollywood

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— In the Nick of Time The Coen brothers have gone outside the family fold, asking screenwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa to adapt an idea for a film called Bad Santa, about a boozing, thieving Saint Nick. Ficarra and Requa, who have just handed in their first draft, are also frenetically making good on their three-picture deal with Warner Bros., which includes a zombie movie and a Looney Tunes adaptation. ”It’ll be part animation, part live-action,” says Requa of the latter, scheduled to begin shooting before a prospective strike. ”The idea is that Warner Bros. fires the ‘toons in favor of new, hip computer-generated characters.” Here’s hoping they don’t treat their writers the same way.

— Feather Buster It’s the equivalent of having your allowance docked or getting grounded: Paramount and Miramax, coproducers of yet another film version of A.E. Mason’s novel The Four Feathers, have called on bond company CCI to help control the movie’s rising costs, empowering an on-set company representative to take a more active role in monitoring the budget. Feathers stars Heath Ledger as a British wartime officer in the Sudan in 1884; Kate Hudson and Wes Bentley costar, with Elizabeth‘s Shekhar Kapur directing. Unexpectedly high costs were accrued during a grueling location stint in Morocco. One source close to the project says the move is meant as a warning to Kapur to watch the bottom line, adding, ”Having paid for the bond, you might as well use it.” Kapur couldn’t be reached for comment, although a joint statement released by CCI, Miramax, and Paramount read in part, ”Kapur and the cast and crew were forced to operate under difficult shooting conditions including windstorms, sandstorms, and flash floods … The fact that the bond company has gotten involved has to do with these extreme conditions.”

(Rebecca Ascher-Walsh can be reached at reel_world@ew.com)