EW Staff
April 17, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Gossip Girl co-creator to direct Bright Lights, Big City
Gossip Girl and Chuck co-creator Josh Schwartz will make his directorial debut with an updated big-screen adaptation of Jay McInerney’s 1984 novel Bright Lights, Big City. Schwartz and the author became pals after serving as Tribeca Film Festival jurors last year. ”Turned out, his daughter was a huge Gossip Girl fan,” says Schwartz, who may set the drug-riddled coming-of-age tale in a decade other than the ’80s. ”My first thought was ‘Oh, s— no,”’ says McInerney of the change. ”My second thought was ‘Well, maybe that’s a good idea.”’ He’s hopeful the new film will erase memories of the troubled 1988 Michael J. Fox version, and Fox himself is curious to see a fresh take. ”I’d like to see a new version of it with a smoother production situation than we had,” says Fox. ”But I’m so old. Do people still run around New York fueled on cocaine 24 hours a day? I don’t see [that] at first-grade pickup and drop-off too much.” — Tim Stack, with additional reporting by Dan Snierson

Rosie O’Donnell looks to boost a new Lifetime series
Rosie O’Donnell — who starred in the Lifetime movie America — is in final negotiations to appear in the network’s series Drop Dead Diva, scheduled to premiere in mid-July. The dramedy will focus on a dead wannabe model who returns to earth in the body of a brilliant, heavyset attorney. (Think Heaven Can Wait, but with ladies.) O’Donnell will guest-star in the second episode as a mentor to Jane Bingum (stage actress Brooke Elliott), the plus-size babe whose body is inhabited by the vapid blonde. ”It’s the whole brains-versus-beauty thing,” explains creator/exec producer Josh Berman (Vanished) to EW. ”It’s so life-affirming. Rosie watched the pilot and said she wanted to be in it.” She first learned of the series through Elliott, who performed in O’Donnell’s short-lived Broadway musical Taboo. Diva, which also stars Margaret Cho as Jane’s assistant, was originally developed for Fox but dropped during the 2007-08 writers’ strike. — Lynette Rice

Zombies author reimagines Abraham Lincoln
Our 16th president may have won the Civil War, but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies‘ author Seth Grahame-Smith has a new role for Honest Abe — vampire slayer. In early April, Grahame-Smith inked a two-book deal worth a rumored $575,000 with Grand Central Publishing following the surprise success of his Jane Austen/undead mash-up. He’s already got a plan for the first project: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a biographical novel. Grahame-Smith tells EW he hopes to have a draft finished by the fall, and that the book will ultimately offer a metaphor for the ills of slavery. ”Abe Lincoln was an uncommonly strong man,” he says. ”And he was an expert at wielding an ax.” — Kate Ward

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