July 20, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

MOVIES
+ Charlize Theron will exec-produce and star in The Burning Plain, the directorial debut of screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Babel). Arriaga, who also wrote the script, says Plain, like his previous films, will explore a theme (in this case, love) through four interconnected story lines set in the U.S. and Mexico. Theron will play ”a woman who has a very painful past,” explains Arriaga. ”Her daughter helps her heal her pain.”

+ Bill Maher’s untitled comedic documentary about religion has been picked up by Lionsgate for an ’08 release. The Real Time host says he and director Larry Charles (Borat) shot footage ”from the Vatican to literally a truck-stop church in South Carolina…. The topic is inexhaustible. We could keep making this documentary until the end of time.” Do we smell a franchise?

TELEVISION
+ Showtime is developing separate hour-long pilots with exec producers George Clooney and John Singleton (Four Brothers), about a televangelist family and high-class call girls, respectively.

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