Who's making deals in the week of October 21, 2005 -- The biggest upcoming projects in entertainment

MOVIES ”I’m ready to step up to the PG-13 market!” says money director Jon Favreau (Elf), who will follow up next month’s kiddie flick Zathura with an adaptation of John Carter of Mars. Previously slated for directors Robert Rodriguez and Kerry Conran (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), the long-gestating project (”75 years in development!”) is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ sci-fi serial about a Civil War vet who’s mystically transported to the planet Barsoom. ”Hollywood has been trying to make this film since [an animated version] was a competing project with Snow White,” explains Favreau. ”It’s been difficult because you’re dealing with so many alien races and there’s only one human character in it; everything else has to be augmented by effects.” As for producer Harry Knowles, a.k.a. Ain’t It Cool News’ webmaster, Favreau says, ”I don’t think that anyone is expecting any degree of journalistic objectivity. It is a passion project for him, and he knows everything about its history.”… Although she’s hitched in real life and engaged on TV, Alyson Hannigan is back a-huntin’ for a man in Date Movie, a Scary Movie-esque romantic-comedy spoof. ”I play the Julia Roberts/Reese Witherspoon Everywoman [who’s] searching for her one true love. But after she actually finds him, he disappears, so she has to go on Extreme Bachelor, where if you’re not picked, you’re shot at.” That does sound extreme! ”It’s very, very extreme! [In one scene,] I wake up with this hideous — and I do mean hideous — zit that’s probably the size of my pinkie. Since it’s a very important day, I pop it and it sends me through a wall.”… There’ll be twice the Paltrow action in the new romantic comedy The Good Night: Gwyneth will costar with Martin Freeman (he was Tim in Ricky Gervais’ The Office); brother Jake will direct.

TELEVISION Former halves of a whole Edward Norton and Brad Pitt have signed on to produce a 10-part miniseries based on historian Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West for HBO and National Geographic.