— HEAT MISER We were surprised when Mel Gibson gave up the directing duties of his long-in-development baby, Fahrenheit 451, and let Frank Darabont (The Majestic) step in, but Gibson says Darabont’s passion won him the gig. ”I had a long talk with him and he told me [it] was his favorite book,” says Gibson of the project, based on Ray Bradbury’s 1953 sci-fi novel. ”It became obvious he should [do it].” Gibson will also pass on starring duties, saying, ”You need someone younger to star, more in the Brad Pitt vein. [But] I might want to take a small role.”
— BIG FAT REWARD The award for savviest director of the week goes to Shawn Levy, who has parlayed the success of Big Fat Liar into a mighty sweet gig: filming Just Married, a romantic comedy starring Brittany Murphy and Ashton Kutcher, currently shooting in and around Venice. ”If it was a giant scam to get to Italy, could you blame me?” asks the director. Murphy and Kutcher play newlyweds whose dream honeymoon devolves into a nightmare; behind the scenes, however, it’s only la dolce vita. ”When in Rome, hey…” says Levy. ”If the crew is having wine at lunch, well, why not? I have totally new insight into the project in the afternoon.”
— TABLE THIS Producer Jerry Bruckheimer is on an epic roll: The man behind Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down is developing a project about King Arthur. But don’t imagine any Camelot-like gooeyness: ”The knights-in-shining-armor was actually a much rougher story than what you’ve seen before,” says Bruckheimer, who has hired Gladiator screenwriter David Franzoni to tackle the script. ”We’ll tell the story of how Arthur was really Roman….The conflict comes from how Arthur really wanted to get back [there].” He must have missed the wine.