Brad Pitt: Steve Granitz/Retna
June 01, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

‘ROAD’ RULES AND REGGAE After more than a decade in the slow lane, a film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s ”On the Road” is on the road again, according to producer John H. Williams (”Shrek”). Opera director Peter Sellars was originally attached to the project and planned to present his adaptation on stage at the Kennedy Center before beginning filming with John Malkovich, but Sellars’ script ”was like scissor cutting excerpts from the book and somewhat randomly neglecting scenes, and that didn’t fly,” says Williams. Then, eight years ago, Francis Ford Coppola agreed to direct, with Ethan Hawke and Brad Pitt playing the hard partying beatniks driving across country, but Coppola had to drop out — ”He got backed up,” says Williams — and the project languished again. Now, with a new script by novelist Russell Banks, Joel Schumacher has agreed to direct and has recently begun casting the project.

Williams is also jammin’ on a Bob Marley biopic, which he has revived at Warner Bros. after eight years in development, thanks to finding foreign financing. Ron Shelton, who wrote the script, will be directing. It sounds like a far cry from Shelton’s forays into baseball and golf, but, says Williams, ”he has an absolute burning passion to do it.” The budget, says the producer, will be ”middle to low, in the $25 million range.”

FURTHERMORE Jennifer Beals, who appears in Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming’s directorial debut, ”The Anniversary Party,” says she is currently negotiating with Fox Searchlight to produce and star in a movie written by Walter Mosley about two women who pull heists. In 1995, Beals appeared in the film based on Mosley’s novel ”Devil in a Blue Dress.”

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