Director Gore Verbinski has tackled unruly swashbucklers (the billion-dollar Pirates franchise), an unlucky mobster (The Mexican) and one unwatchable video tape (The Ring). Now he’s entering the unrealistic world of online avatars. Verbinski plans to produce and possibly direct a project based on one man’s crippling addiction to a virtual-reality website, a la Second Life. The project, set up at Universal, is based on reporter Alexandra Alter’s 2007 Wall Street Journal article “Is This Man Cheating on this Wife?”. The subject of the piece, newlywed Ric Hoogestraat, became so obsessed with the program, his virtual wife, and his highly glamorous online existence that his real-life spouse declared herself “widowed”. WAM Films is producing.