Keeping Up With the Jones Singletons unite! The movie version of Bridget Jones’s Diary, the best-selling 1998 novel by Helen Fielding about a neurotic unwed thirtysomething, is strutting into production just as Fielding’s Diary sequel hits U.K. bookstores (the U.S. edition of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason will be available Feb. 28). Casting isn’t set, but the front-runners for the lead are Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz, and Emily Watson, according to someone close to the production. The script, meanwhile, has fared like a bad blind date. ”It’s a tough story to get right because Bridget’s a tough nut to crack,” says executive producer Eric Fellner. Three screenwriters, including Fielding, have worked on drafts. One certainty is that the movie will remain faithful to the book, right down to characters like the ”smug marrieds.” ”Helen’s book is what holds this project together,” says production exec Sarah Jane. ”It’s helped us avoid Bridget-like crises.”
Navy Blue Joshua Leonard’s knapsack may have been heavy in The Blair Witch Project, but it’s nothing compared with what was on his back in his first big-budget feature, the just-wrapped Navy Diver, costarring Cuba Gooding Jr. Two days after signing on to the film, about the Navy’s first African-American salvage-retrieval diver, Leonard had to take a crash scuba course. ”They stick you in this 200-pound suit,” Leonard says. ”You can barely see anything, you’re cold, you can’t hold your breath or you die, and they say, ‘Okay, now act.’ This was way more frightening than anything we saw in the woods looking for the Blair Witch.”
Funny Money Finally, a movie for all those teenage billionaires out there. Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Productions just greenlit Daytrader, about a kid who plays the market from his parents’ computer and winds up making $35 million. The comedy, written by Jonathan Greenberg and Jonathan Lisco, has been put on the fast track with high hopes of a summer 2000 release. Greenberg’s research? ”Asking my 16-year-old cousin what she’d do if she had 35 million dollars,” he says. Buy a Backstreet Boy?