— A MAN POSSESSED Auto Focus director Paul Schrader has made a deal with the devil: While his taste of late has tended toward indie fare, he’s now helming The Exorcist: The Beginning, a prequel in which Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) is hanging with Satan in Africa. (Schrader took over for John Frankenheimer, who died this summer.) ”If I’m any good at it and I pull this off, I may be able to end my career on my own two feet rather than groveling for coins,” explains the 56-year-old filmmaker. Despite his past critical lauds, ”There aren’t many scraps falling off the table.”
— DAYJA VU More news on filmmakers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich’s follow-up to Independence Day: Original cast members Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum have already been approached about reteaming for the sequel. Says Pullman: ”I think it’s definitely going to happen.” Devlin and Emmerich are currently writing the script, and ”I like what they are talking about,” Pullman adds. As for Goldblum: ”I enjoyed the first film, and I like the character.” Does that mean he’ll be returning? ”It depends,” says the actor. ”I’m meticulous.”
— OLYMPIC FEET We hear that Jim Carrey, who is currently filming opposite Jennifer Aniston in Bruce Almighty, is circling Universal’s Strutter. The romantic comedy, written by Peter Speakman and Michael M.B. Galvin, is set amid the as-yet-unexplored world of Olympic racewalking. Speakman and Galvin also have a movie about the equally weird world of competitive Scrabble players, Your Word Against Mine, set up at Miramax.