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Reel World

News From Hollywood

Watership Down Steven Spielberg’s longtime producing partner Frank Marshall plans to plant himself back in the director’s chair this fall. Marshall, who helmed Arachnophobia and Alive, is currently working with writer Jonathan Lemkin (The Devil’s Advocate) on a script for Warner Bros. titled Expendables, inspired by a California prison program that trains inmates to become commercial divers. Expendables is an ensemble action drama about prisoners who are sent to the South Seas to locate a sunken World War II submarine loaded down with gold. ”It’s kind of a Dirty Dozen on the water — all the things you shouldn’t do,” jokes Marshall. Convicts, conflict, and exotic locations? Hey, it floats our boat.

Going Down Town Speaking of divers, after approving as suitable for all audiences a Town and Country trailer in which an elderly woman calls a character a ”muff diver,” the MPAA seems to have realized this is not a reference to a game played with hand warmers. The organization has requested that New Line pull the trailer, which has already been playing in theaters for about a month. New Line has declined.

Horse Replay All the Pretty Horses may be underperforming at the box office, but director Billy Bob Thornton, who’s talking about releasing a longer director’s cut on DVD, is planning a reunion of sorts. According to Matt Damon, Thornton is writing a script for Penélope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Damon, and Thornton; Pedro Almodóvar is interested in directing. The actors are delighted, even if they’re not quite sure what it’s about. ”One night Billy said, ‘We’re doing a hitchhiking movie,”’ says Damon, adding that Cruz, in her less than perfectly fluent English, calls it ”the high-jack movie.”

(Rebecca Ascher-Walsh can be reached at