Plus, one passed-over director for ''Harry Potter'' laments

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated April 06, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Francois Fogel/Sygma

Looks like the busiest actor on the planet, Keanu Reeves, is about to take on another project. Now that Columbia has put Andrew Bergman’s political satire ”The Ottoman Empire” into turnaround, Reeves is circling ”Hardball: A Season in the Projects,” a drama for director Brian Robbins. Based on Daniel Coyle’s nonfiction book about his experience coaching baseball in Chicago’s inner city, ”Hardball” has been in development since 1994, and was going to be Robbins’ follow-up to ”Varsity Blues” until casting issues fouled things up.

Robbins, who went on to direct ”Ready to Rumble,” hopes to return to ”Hardball” this summer, catching Reeves, who just wrapped Sam Raimi’s ”The Gift,” after he completes the romantic drama ”Sweet November” and before he begins filming ”The Matrix 2” and ”3” back-to-back in Australia.

With Warner Bros. anointing Chris Columbus (”Mrs. Doubtfire”) as the director of another movie based on a book, ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (maybe you’ve heard of it?), one passed-over contender could be feeling less than celebratory. Brad Silberling (”City of Angels”) was approached by studio execs more than two years ago, but after J.K. Rowling’s series began appearing on the best-seller lists, bigger names like Steven Spielberg expressed interest.

Still, Silberling wasn’t completely dismissed: With Spielberg possibly on board for the first ”Potter,” the young director was considered for a sequel. But now that Columbus has won the honor, Silberling is moving on with DreamWorks’ family drama ”Baby’s in Black,” to which Susan Sarandon is committed. Silberling won’t comment, but a source close to him says he is ”devastated…. He saw the whole movie so vividly in his head.”