Gregory Kirschling
August 06, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

MOVIES Has your book club read that best-seller ”Reading Lolita in Tehran” yet? The movie’s on the way, and ”House of Sand and Fog” show stealer Shohreh Aghdashloo is perfectly cast as the Iranian prof who teaches forbidden Western classics to seven female students. ”When I was reading it,” says Aghdashloo, who was born and raised in Tehran, ”it took me on a journey that I deliberately chose not to take — back in 1979, when I left Iran.” Aghdashloo, who likes Jane Austen (”I think she is the best writer of all”), also has a regular gig on ”24” next season…. Re: good books. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ”Love in the Time of Cholera” is the 1985 insta-classic about a man who waits fifty years, nine months, and four days for his true love. ”It took me that long to get the rights,” jokes producer Scott Steindorff, who faced down Garcia Marquez’s ”No! No! No!”s until the maestro finally sold him the chance to turn the book into a movie — for $3 million. ”It’s worth every penny,” Steindorff avows. ”It’s the greatest love story ever told!” Steindorff (”The Human Stain”) is also mounting a film version of T.C. Boyle’s ”The Tortilla Curtain”; he just signed Kevin Costner to play the California nature writer who hits an illegal immigrant with his car, and Meg Ryan is in talks to play his wife.

TELEVISION ”I’m gonna visit the small screen,” says ”Waiting to Exhale” sultress Angela Bassett, revealing her upcoming stint on ”Alias.” ”I play an FBI/CIA head honcho who gives the girl” — that would be Jennifer Garner — ”a hard time. They were discussing the character as a man and they said maybe they could go for a woman. And the creator” — that would be J.J. Abrams — ”was like, ‘Can’t see it, can’t see it.’ And then somebody brought my name up and he said, ‘Oh, I see it.’ So he gave me a call, and he sounded so dear on the phone, and I said okay.”

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