Adam B. Vary
October 30, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST


— Universal Studios snagged Borat star Sasha Baron Cohen‘s next project, Bruno, for a reported $42.5 million. Another character from Cohen’s HBO series Da Ali G Show, Bruno is a gay Austrian who believes he is a fashion maven and ”the voice of Austrian youth TV.” Jay Roach (director of the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents films) would again produce the movie, which does not yet have a director. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/30)

Maria Bello, Jimmy Smits, Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada), Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace (Lost), Kevin Zegers (Transamerica), and Hugh Dancy (King Arthur) have joined The Jane Austen Book Club, an adaptation of the Karen Joy Fowler novel by screenwriter Robin Swicord (Memoirs of a Geisha). Club focuses on the romantic lives of a group of women (and one man) who meet to discuss the film-adaptation-friendly 19th-century author. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/30)

George Clooney will make his third film with Joel and Ethan Coen (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Intolerable Cruelty) in Burn After Reading, a comic spin on the spy thriller that follows a CIA agent trying to write a book. The project will most likely start shooting next summer, after Clooney finishes Leatherheads, his next effort as a director. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/25)

Peter Sarsgaard has joined Rendition, a drama about a CIA operative (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a prisoner’s American wife (Reese Witherspoon). Director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) plans to start shooting this fall. (Variety, 10/25)

Will Ferrell and Woody Harrelson are going Semi-Pro. The comedy, set in the bygone world of the American Basketball Association, follows an NBA washout (Ferrell), who becomes the owner, and the coach, and a player on the fictional Flint (Mich.) Tropics in the last season of the ABA’s existence. Kent Alterman, an exec at New Line Cinema, is leaving his post to direct the film for the studio from a script by Scot Armstrong (Old School). (Hollywood Reporter, 10/27)

Heather Graham and Dylan McDermott will join Val Kilmer, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Matthew Modine in A West Texas Children’s Story. The period indie follows two 12-year-olds — AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Cayden Boyd (X-Men: The Last Stand) — who escape their abusive homes and at one point visit their hippie aunt and uncle (played by Graham and McDermott). Longtime TV comedy scribe Brad Isaacs (NewsRadio, Roseanne) wrote the screenplay and will make his directorial debut with the film. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/26)

Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Match Point) will join Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun Fat, and Radha Mitchell in The Children of Huang Shi, a period historical epic about an Englishman who fled with 60 orphans from the Japanese occupation of China in the late 1930s. Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies, And the Band Played On) will direct the internationally financed production, which aims to go before cameras in mid-November. (Variety, 10/27)

Peter and Bobby Farrelly have two projects in the hopper: One for TV (see details below) and one for the big screen — directing Baster, a romantic comedy for Columbia Pictures about a woman’s desire to have a child, based on a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides). (Hollywood Reporter, 10/23)


Blair Underwood, Dianne Wiest, and Melissa George (Alias) will be In Treatment with Gabriel Byrne. The half-hour HBO drama is about a therapist who’s easy-going in his office and a mess when in therapy himself. Underwood and George will play Byrne’s patients; Wiest, his therapist. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/30)

The Farrelly Brothers will be developing I’m With Stupid for NBC, an adaptation of the BBC comedy about a depressed man who moves into a home for the disabled. Hollywood Reporter, 10/27)

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