Will Smith's superhero movie gets a director. Plus: Read about ''The Devil Wears Prada'' moving one step closer to TV, Joel Silver's 15-picture deal, and the week's other developments

By Vanessa Juarez
October 17, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT


· Columbia Pictures has set Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) to direct Tonight, He Comes, the long-gestating film with Will Smith attached to star as a superhero in existential crisis. Tonight begins shooting in May for a summer 2008 release. Akiva Goldsman, Michael Mann, James Lassiter, and Smith produce. (Daily Variety, 10/16)

· Rachel Bilson (The O.C., The Last Kiss) is stepping in as the leading lady opposite Hayden Christensen in Regency Enterprises and 20th Century Fox’s sci-fi adventure pic Jumper, being directed by Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith). (Daily Variety, 10/16)

· The latest filmmaker to take advantage of the private equity flowing into Hollywood, producer Joel Silver has struck a $220 million deal with CIT Group, which will finance the production of 15 films in the $10 million-$40 million range during the next six years from Silver’s genre-oriented Dark Castle Entertainment. Simultaneously, Warner Bros. Pictures, Silver’s longtime home base, said Saturday that it will release the full slate of 15 movies. Silver will fully finance the films, with Warners putting up the costs of P&A while taking a distribution fee. Under the new arrangement, announced by Warners president of production Jeff Robinov, the studio will take worldwide rights to the films, though Silver will retain as many as two international territories where Dark Castle will be permitted to sell the films itself. Dark Castle has already chosen France as one of the two territories, and StudioCanal has agreed to partner with Dark Castle in exchange for the right to distribute the slate there. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/16)

· Rogue Pictures has teamed up with James Cameron to co-write and produce James Cameron’s Sanctum, a live-action drama to be shot next spring in high-definition 3-D. Gary Johnstone will direct the pic revolving around a — what else! — deep-sea diving team headed by a father and son. When the team heads to uncharted depths, a life-threatening crisis occurs. Cameron is rewriting the script with John Garvin. Johnstone has collaborated numerous times with Cameron, sharing directing duties on the TV documentary Expedition: Bismarck. Despite the ambitious technology and undersea storyline, the film will be budgeted in the low $20 millions, peanuts compared with the reported $350 million it’d cost to produce Cameron’s shelved 3-D drama Avatar, which he reportedly is still prepping to direct. Either way, Cameron will be actively involved in Sanctum, which will be produced with Andrew Wight through Earthship Prods., the Cameron shingle that specializes in 3-D productions. (Variety, 10/13)

· Speaking of father-and-son teams, John Goodman is set to join the cast of Death Sentence, a drama about a father (Kevin Bacon) out for revenge after his family is attacked in a gang-initiation crime. Bacon, Kelly Preston, Garrett Hedlund, and Matthew O’Leary also star. Goodman, who also stars in next year’s Evan Almighty, plays Bones Darly, an arms dealer and the boss of a drug ring that includes his two sons, Billy (Hedlund, Four Brothers) and Joe (O’Leary, Brick). Shooting on the film under the direction of James Wan has begun in Columbia, S.C. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/13)

· Paddy Considine (In America, 24 Hour Party People) has joined Matt Damon in the cast of The Bourne Ultimatum, the third installment of the Universal Pictures’ action franchise. Paul Greengrass (United 93) is directing. Like the previous Bourne movies, the story centers on an assassin (Damon) uncovering mysteries of his past, which puts him in the crosshairs of killers. Considine will play a London journalist who is tracking a former CIA director. Tony Gilroy, Tom Stoppard, Scott Burns, and Paul Attanasio penned the script. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/12)

· When a Stranger Calls director Simon West is said to be on board to produce and direct Salty, based on a novel and screenplay by Mark Haskell Smith about a reformed sex addict and bass player whose ex-supermodel wife gets kidnapped by pirates while they are vacationing in Thailand. West’s production company originally inked the deal to option the novel. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/13)

· Amber Tamblyn (The Grudge 2, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) has signed on to star in Blackout, an indie thriller by newbie Mexican director Rigoberto Castaneda. The script, by Ed Dougherty and Morabito, revolves around three people who are trapped in a hospital elevator for almost 24 hours as what at first seems like an inconvenience turns into a nightmare. Tamblyn will play a young woman who is trying to get to her dying grandmother in the hospital. Sounds like New York City fodder, doesn’t it? (Hollywood Reporter, 10/12)


· Sam Raimi, the director of the Spider-Man franchise, and The Grudge 2 producer Rob Tapert are weaving a hybrid horror/reality series together for the fledging CW network called House of Horrors. CW execs believe that, once greenlit, the show could be on the air as early as next summer. (Daily Variety, 10/13)

· Fox TV Studios seems to be riding on the coattails of fashion, having nabbed the TV rights to The Devil Wears Prada to develop it as a series project for sister net Fox. Robin Schiff (Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion) will write and exec-produce the half-hour single-camera comedy, which has been a passion project for FTVS prexy Angela Shapiro-Mathes. Here’s hoping it’s as good as the movie. (Daily Variety, 10/12)

· ABC has add ordered up nine more episodes of freshman dramedy Ugly Betty, bringing the total order to 22. Betty, from Touchstone TV, has ranked as the most-watched new series this season, averaging 14.8 million viewers. While the show in its subsequent airings has slipped a bit from its stellar premiere, Betty still ranks as a solid second to CBS’ Survivor in the 8 p.m. Thursday slot among total viewers and adults 18-49, delivering ABC’s best numbers in the hour with scripted programming in 13 years. Meanwhile, Fox’s rookie comedies ‘Til Death and Happy Hour, which run against Betty on Thursday, have received orders for three additional scripts. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/14)

· Neal Baer, executive producer of Law & Order: SVU, is going back to his medical roots to develop an hour-long hospital drama — à la ER‘s early days when Baer scripted some of the show’s more memorable episodes. Baer is teaming with SVU scribe Dawn DeNoon to pen the Peacock project, which is tentatively dubbed Life or Death. Also reuniting are two of CSI‘s exec producers, Jerry Bruckheimer and Danny Cannon, for a project at CBS. Also in the development hopper: an hour-long pilot from Marta Kauffman, her first pilot script since Friends, while Adam Mazar (Breach) is working on an FBI-themed drama for the CW. (Daily Variety, 10/16)


· Three Americans — Neve Campbell, Kristen Johnston, and Michael McKean — and Irishman Cillian Murphy are taking to the West End in the new play Love Song. (Daily Variety, 10/16)