— WRITERS ON FIRE Gregg Chabot and Kevin Peterka waited seven years to see their dragonfest fantasy Reign of Fire, starring Matthew McConaughey, roar its way to the screen last week. The duo, longing to be like Graham Greene, wrote the epic on an old 30-pound typewriter while backpacking through Europe after college; when producer Richard Zanuck sold the script to Fox in 1995, ”everything looked golden,” says Peterka. ”We thought it was too good to be true.” It was: The project got stalled in development and then put into turnaround before being rescued by Spyglass and Disney in 1999. The writing partners, who live in Milwaukee, have spent the intervening years working on several other scripts, and while they’re hoping for a Reign sequel, they say the next one up will probably be a revisionist Robin Hood movie called In a Dark Wood. (They also have a film called Ghosts of October, a historic drama about a manhunt for the last Civil War fugitive, at DreamWorks.) But what Chabot and Peterka, both 33, would most like is to see their next project go before they’re even longer in the tooth: As Peterka says, ”I’m not in good enough shape to haul that old typewriter around anymore.”
— FURTHERMORE Producer Arthur Sarkissian (Rush Hour 2) has bought the rights to remake the 1961 epic El Cid; among his top picks to play the Spaniard is Tom Cruise…. Director Amy Heckerling (Clueless) is currently adapting the 1998 Japanese film After Life, with an intent to direct the drama about a group of recently deceased who spend a week in purgatory.