Plus, who will go ''Around the World''?, and more

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated May 16, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Julia Roberts: Alec Michael/Globe Photos

WALK THIS WAY Julia Roberts, who as far as we’re concerned deserves a little spa time, is instead committing to a role that will require quite a bit of schlepping, in a film called ”Tracks.” (Roberts has been involved intermittently for several years, though Helen Hunt was once mentioned to star.) ”Julia will play a woman who walks across the outback with her three camels and a dog while a National Geographic photographer documents her journey,” says ”A Knight’s Tale” producer Todd Black. (Yes, you read that right: camels.) According to Black, Roberts has asked Mel Gibson to direct the Aussie odyssey.

STEALING BEAUTY Screenwriter Matthew Chapman will direct Leelee Sobieski in ”Scam,” about a con woman who ”doesn’t know she’s a scam artist, because she believes her powers are real,” says Chapman, who wrote the draft of ”What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”, which got stars Danny DeVito and Martin Lawrence attached. (Director Sam Weisman later brought in ”Men in Black 2” writer Barry Fanaro.) Chapman hopes to begin filming ”Scam” this fall; he’s currently writing Paramount and producer Lynda Obst’s project, ”Grave Goods,” which he describes as a ”contemporary ‘African Queen.”’

DREAM ON Don’t expect to see Good Machine and Fox’s globe trotting film ”Around the World in 80 Days” anytime soon. Good Machine’s version — director Stephen Sommers (”The Mummy Returns”) was once connected to a competing project at Warner Bros. — was originally intended for Ang Lee, then reconceived as an animated film before circling back to live action. ”It’s an expensive movie, so you have to hire an A list actor, and there’s no one who’s a real natural,” says Good Machine copresident Ted Hope. ”You have to have someone prim and proper and dashing and daring and willing to laugh at himself.” Maybe animation’s the way to go, after all.

Additional reporting by Cindy Pearlman

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