Deals: Steven Spielberg, Toby Keith, vampire cowboys
– Night at the Museum, an adaptation of the Milan Trenc children’s book about Museum of Natural History animals who come to life and go on a rampage, will be the next feature for CGI-creature master Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing). That’ll leave Sommers too busy to direct the remake of When Worlds Collide, but the project has gone to another Steven who knows a thing or two about sci-fi, a guy named Spielberg. (Alas, he’s just producing Worlds, not directing.)
– Toby Keith has signed a two-picture deal with Paramount. In the first, he’ll play (big stretch) a country singer named Bean Porter (wha?) who reunites with an old flame and meets their daughter for the first time.
– Horror director Mary Lambert (Pet Sematery) plans a vampire western called High Midnight. Best vampire western ever, by the way, is Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark. Rent it now.
– Indecision, the much-touted Catcher in the Rye-esque novel by rookie Benjamin Kunkel that’s just hitting stores, already has a movie deal. Expert book-to-film producer Scott Rudin (The Hours) bought the rights.
– Rob Reiner plans to direct and produce an anti-Iraq War film. In Whiskey River, a father decides to kidnap his wounded son from the hospital in order to save him from being shipped back to active duty.
– On the TV side: Rejoice, Thorn Birds fans, for Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward are reuniting in another miniseries, Blackbeard. Angus Macfadyen (Braveheart) will star as the pirate, alongside Chamberlain, Ward, and Stacy Keach, in the four-hour miniseries for the Hallmark Channel.