October 20, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Now that Tobey Maguire has signed on to the long-delayed Spider-Man, director Sam Raimi is looking to put a little love in the cartoon hero’s life. Raimi admits he’s smitten with the idea of Alicia Witt as the sexy Mary Jane, but says ”there are still other actresses I have left to interview.” As for the nefarious Green Goblin, with first choice Nicolas Cage unavailable, Raimi’s hoping to snag the ever-menacing John Malkovich. An even scarier thought for some fans may be that Raimi is — yikes — modifying Spider-Man’s classic red-and-blue bodysuit: ”I can’t say [it] will be what the kids have seen in comic books.” Now there’s a costume drama.

Director Jay Roach (Austin Powers) may have too much of a good thing, thanks to the monster opening of Meet the Parents. Not only is he supervising the sequel, Meet the Fockers, but he’s also attempting to rescue his pet project, an adaptation of the comic sci-fi novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is being put in turnaround by Disney. ”It’s quirky and expensive and it’s hard to sell,” says Roach, who estimates that the film would cost between $85 and $100 million. ”It’s a risk,” he admits, ”but Austin Powers was rejected at every studio before New Line took it.” One sure thing is the plot of the Parents sequel, which will be written by Parents co-screenwriter Jim Herzfeld: ”This time, De Niro goes to meet Ben Stiller’s family,” Roach says. ”I’m not sure of all the dynamics yet, but it will definitely be a predicament.”

Tod Williams (The Adventures of Sebastian Cole) has adapted John Irving’s best-selling novel A Widow for One Year, and the script is currently making the rounds to actors, including Bill Murray and Julianne Moore, who has also been mentioned as a possible costar with Kevin Spacey in The Shipping News.

Additional reporting by William Keck and Thom Geier

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