HBO's ''Rome'' leaps to the big screen, and Chris Columbus will direct Kathryn Stockett's ''The Help''

By Lynette Rice and Nicole Sperling
March 05, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST

TV Julianne Moore returns to her soap opera roots
As the World Turns may be ending its 54-year run in September, but it still carries some clout. EW has learned exclusively that on April 5, Julianne Moore will return to the CBS soap that earned her a Daytime Emmy (she played half sisters Frannie and Sabrina from 1985 to ’88). Taped on March 3, the appearance is only a walk-on — she’ll show up as Frannie to congratulate her character’s parents at their anniversary party — but the producers are hoping it will have a snowball effect. Several other stars also began their careers on ATWT, including Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, and Parker Posey, so exec producer Christopher Goutman hopes to persuade some of them to book a return trip to Oakdale. ”Julianne’s appearance will definitely break the ice,” he says. ”It really says something about the show and how it had an important place in her life.” Goutman and his team are also expected to reunite popular couples before production wraps this summer (here’s looking at you, Jack and Carly and Holden and Lily!). And they’re still looking for a new home for ATWT, which is currently tied with One Life to Live in last place among viewers, with 2.6 million apiece.

HBO’s hit series Rome may conquer the movie screen
Hail, yes! An insider confirmed that a big-screen sequel to HBO’s Rome is under way. Creator Bruno Heller has finished a script for Morning Light Productions, and Rome stars Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson will likely sign on to the movie, which picks up in Germany several years later. The next step: finding a director and studio, since HBO Films won’t be involved.
Lynette Rice

MOVIES The Help to clean up in theaters
Steven Spielberg‘s DreamWorks Studios is turning Kathryn Stockett‘s best-selling novel into a movie. The project, which centers on Southern white women and their black maids in the 1960s, had been acquired by Stockett’s childhood friend, rookie director Tate Taylor, and has Percy Jackson director Chris Columbus attached to produce. With a script in place from Taylor — who will also direct — DreamWorks is hoping to film this summer in Mississippi. ”We had a good, solid meeting with Tate last week. He’s met with Steven, watched movies with Steven,” says Holly Bario, co-president of production for the studio. ”The casting is going to be the most fun part,” she says of the project’s next step. ”This is a total tour de force for women.”
Nicole Sperling