The truth about TV a version of "Rear Window" and the next Chili Peppers CD

It’s the typical Hollywood MO: A high-profile project is announced to fanfare and huzzahs one day, only to vanish from radar screens the next. So where exactly do such works go?

Project: Columbia Pictures’ big-screen versions of I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched. Status: Talk of getting the mystical pair into multiplexes began brewing two years ago; at the time, hot-girl-of-the-moment Alicia Silverstone was rumored to be up for both roles. But neither project got off to a magical start. The Jeannie script turned in by screenwriter Todd W. Langen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) wasn’t up to snuff and was scrapped. Still, filmmakers are optimistic about returning to Cocoa Beach: New scripter Robin Swicord (Little Women) and producer Sidney Ganis recently returned from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where they spent time trying to channel Major Nelson. “We’re zooming along,” says Ganis, who hopes to attract Jenna Elfman, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Téa Leoni to star. “Robin’s deep into the script now. We hope to have this movie out at the very end of the century.” Meanwhile, despite assurances from a production-company spokeswoman that Bewitched is “progressing,” in reality the film has been rudderless ever since its intended director, Ted Bessell, died suddenly in October 1996. Initial screenwriter Douglas Carter Beane (To Wong Foo…) is also no longer involved in the project. Prognosis: Jeannie may still blink its way into theaters next year, but Bewitched is most likely going the way of the first Darrin.

Project: ABC’s remake of the Hitchcock masterpiece Rear Window, starring Christopher Reeve. Status: Last June—long before director Gus Van Sant offended Hitchcock purists by deciding to update Psycho—ABC announced plans for a modernized version of this Jimmy Stewart-Grace Kelly classic. The two-hour telepic was to have been Reeve’s first lead role since a 1995 horse-riding accident left him a quadriplegic. But the Window of opportunity came and went last season as Reeve instead poured his energy into his autobiography, Still Me, which hit the shelves last month. Script revisions added to the delay—Reeve and producer Steven Haft were unhappy with the direction of the first teleplay. “Chris set a very high standard for this project, in terms of what kind of a script it was going to take to get him in front of the camera again,” says Haft. A revised script was greenlit in March, and Haft says the project is back on track: “We have now hired a director, Jeff Bleckner [The Beast], and we start shooting in July.” An ABC spokeswoman says the network hopes to air the remake in the fall. Prognosis: Not much suspense here—the Rear view looks clear.

Project: The Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ next album Status: Ever since the band’s 1995 disc, One Hot Minute—their disappointing follow-up to 1991’s breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magik—the funksters have been less than red-hot about putting their next CD together. First, frontman Anthony Kiedis was sidelined by a motorcycle accident last August. Then, in October, bassist Flea and guitarist Dave Navarro took off on a 17-city reunion tour with Jane’s Addiction. Navarro followed that by leaving the band last month to work on a solo project. But now that the Peppers have replaced him with former Red Hot guitarist John Frusciante, the gang is relishing the thought of a new disc. “The side projects that everybody had is what delayed [them],” says Karen Moss, the group’s publicist at Warner Bros. Records. “They’ve been working on [a new album] for about six weeks.” The CD is scheduled to hit stores sometime next year. Prognosis: Here come the Spice Boys.

(Additional reporting by Rob Brunner and Dave Karger)

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