Sandler, Leoni may wed for James L. Brooks. They'd play a couple in ''Spanglish,'' the director's first film since ''As Good as It Gets''

By Gary Susman
Updated June 12, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Another sign that Adam Sandler wants to be taken seriously: He’s negotiating to star in a movie written and directed by James L. Brooks. Variety reports that Sandler and Téa Leoni are in talks to star in ”Spanglish,” the filmmaker’s first movie since 1997’s ”As Good as It Gets.” They’d play a married couple in the romantic comedy, which also has a part for a Latina actress, for which Brooks will reportedly conduct a worldwide search. Brooks doesn’t direct very often (he’s made only four movies in the last 20 years), but when he does (see ”Terms of Endearment,” ”Broadcast News,” or ”As Good…”), his leading players almost always get Oscar nominations. (Notable exception: The 1993 flop ”I’ll Do Anything,” which didn’t do anything for Nick Nolte’s career.)

The ”Spanglish” news comes days after Sandler reportedly talked with director Michael Mann about playing a straight dramatic role opposite Tom Cruise in the crime thriller ”Collateral.” Leoni, too, wants to be taken seriously, as a producer. Variety reports that she successfully pitched to Universal a comedy called ”Miss Captivity,” which she would produce and star in. It’s based on a true story about a reality-TV producer who stages a beauty pageant in a women’s prison that turns out to be a growth experience for the inmates instead of the expected caged-heat catfight. (The actual story took place in Lithuania, but ”Miss Captivity” will be set in Texas.) It’s not clear when that film would go into production, as Brooks wants to shoot ”Spanglish” this fall.