Plus: HarperCollins publishing James Frey novel, Cillian Murphy starring with Al Pacino in ''Dali,'' Anne Archer and Martin Mull land cable pilots, and more...

By Mike Bruno
September 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Ricky Gervais: Eamonn McCormack/

Gervais starring in, directing Truth
Ricky Gervais will star in the Media Rights Capital-financed comedy This Side of the Truth. The actor has already signed on to co-direct with his co-writer Matt Robinson. The project will be Gervais’ feature directorial debut. The story, set in a world where nobody has ever lied, is about a performer (Gervais) who tells the first lie and exploits its power for personal gain. ”My character’s a loser who’s about to lose his job,” Gervais tells Variety. ”But once he lies and pretends he’s found lost stories, he becomes the greatest storyteller in the world.” Shooting is scheduled to start this spring. (Variety)

HarperCollins publishing James Frey novel
James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces, a memoir he admitted to largely fabricating, is working on a fiction novel set for release in summer 2008 by HarperCollins. The Associated Press reports that the publisher described the book, Bright Shiny Morning, as a kaleidoscopic portrait of modern Los Angeles. Frey first came to public attention in 2005 when Oprah Winfrey chose Million Little Pieces for her book club. When The Smoking Gun website later uncovered that Frey had made up and embellished substantial parts of his story, billed as nonfiction, Winfrey had Frey on her show and publicly admonished him, saying she felt ”duped” by the author. The incident led to Frey’s agent dropping him, as well as Penguin Group USA, which had negotiated a seven-figure contract with him. Nevertheless, Million has continued to sell 1,000 copies a week. ”Whatever view one might hold of what happened with that book, I was deeply struck by the writing,” said a HarperCollins executive. Frey has said in the past that he’s wanted to write an L.A.-based novel. (AP via Yahoo!)

Murphy starring with Pacino in Dali
Cillian Murphy (Sunshine, The Wind That Shakes the Barley) will star opposite Al Pacino in Dali & I: The Surreal Story for Room 9 Entertainment. Murphy will play Stan Lauryssens, a young art dealer who shared a mentor-protege relationship with Salvador Dali during the 1960s-80s, after the artist’s great work was behind him and he became more flamboyant. The story is based on Lauryssens’ autobiographical book Dali and I. Andrew Niccol (Lord of War, Gattica) is directing. Shooting is set to start in the spring. (Hollywood Reporter)

Archer, Mull land cable pilots
Anne Archer (Ghost Whisperer, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Martin Mull have both landed Sony Pictures TV cable pilots. Archer has been tapped for Lifetime’s Family Practice, about a woman (Joey Honsa) from South Chicago who becomes entangled with members of an affluent family at one of the city’s law firms. Archer will play a woman who has built a formidable pro bono practice after spending much of her adult life raising her children and living in the shadow of her lawyer husband (Beau Bridges). Meanwhile, Mull has been cast in TNT’s Family Man a light drama starring William H. Macy as an unlikely criminal: a respected father of three, upright citizen, and advice-dispensing pillar of his community by day and the leader of a bickering gang of burglars by night. Mull will play his intellectual older brother and supposedly a member of Mensa who now can’t hold down a fast food restaurant job. (Hollywood Reporter)

Zeta-Jones to film in India
Catherine Zeta-Jones will visit India with husband Michael Douglas to shoot a new film, she was quoted as saying in the Times of India newspaper. Zeta Jones said she is currently developing the script with Douglas, but the newspaper did not say when it would be ready or when the couple would visit. (Reuters)

NBC launching Class project
NBC is launching a project, similar to the documentary Seven Up!, in which it follows a group of Los Angeles-area kindergartners through high school graduation 13 years from now. Class of 2020 will chronicle the life and times of the pupils as they move through the system. The series will mainly appear on Today but also will have a dedicated website. The first report starts Friday, focusing primarily on two of the kids. (Hollywood Reporter)

CELEBRITY NEWS Pamela Anderson told Ellen DeGeneres that she is dating a professional poker player and that she is staying out of the feud between her ex-husbands Tommy Lee and Kid Rock.

Page Six: Just a week after announcing his split from Michelle Williams, Heath Ledger has been seen hanging (and making) out with Danish supermodel Helena Christensen.

Rush & Molloy: Drummer Jason Bonham will take the place of his late father, John, when Led Zeppelin reunites for one night in November in London to honor Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.