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Judi Dench Puts On 'Boots'

Plus Cameron Diaz’s next flick and more news from Hollywood

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BOOT CALL Lest you were upset by the news that Tim Allen turned his nose up at The Cat in the Hat, rest assured that the feline world has a new advocate: Director Arthur Hiller (See No Evil, Hear No Evil) will be adapting Puss in Boots, with Gérard Depardieu cast as the villain and Judi Dench playing the queen. ”It’ll be a live fairy tale, though the cat will obviously have to be a puppet and a little CGI,” says Hiller, who will begin filming in May.

WRITE TURN Heads up, struggling screenwriters: This item may make you lose your Christmas spirit. One of the scribes of the moment really wants to…act. Nancy M. Pimental, who penned The Sweetest Thing, a comedy being directed by Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions) and starring Cameron Diaz, may be the highest-paid struggling actress in Hollywood. Pimental, who has a gig on Comedy Central’s Win Ben Stein’s Money, honed her literary hobby because, she says, ”I’d go on my auditions to read one line with 30 women who looked exactly like me, and then had 23 hours and 59 minutes left in the day, so I started writing as an outlet.” Pimental scored her first job as a writer for South Park in March 1998; she then sold Thing as a spec script to Columbia for a sweet $1 million, with Pimental also snagging a part in the film. ”It’s just two funny scenes,” says the neo-hyphenate, who once supported herself parking cars for Valet Girls. ”I don’t need to star. I’m very realistic. I’m not saying it’s Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, or me.” Pimental now has a seven-figure deal with Columbia for her next project, but she’s considering an offer from another studio that involves adapting someone else’s idea instead, in return for a part in the movie. The negotiation could be tricky, though. ”What if a director comes in and doesn’t want me?”

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