Steve Granitz/
Dawnie Walton
June 28, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Laurence Fishburne plans to direct big-screen Alchemist
The actor and indie production company A-Mark Entertainment have bought the rights to make a movie version of Paulo Coelho’s extremely popular novel The Alchemist, with Fishburne set to direct. Since 2003 the adaptation had been set up at Warners, as a vehicle for Fishburne (who also wrote the script), but the project had stalled. Coelho’s novel, about a world-traveling Spaniard who seeks Egyptian treasure but eventually finds spiritual enlightenment, is an international best-seller; according to The Hollywood Reporter, the new filmmakers are said to be envisioning their project as an adventure film — ”Harry Potter meets Indiana Jones.” (The Hollywood Reporter)

BET Awards winners
Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson each won two awards at the annual event, honoring black musicians, actors, and athletes. Beyonce took home trophies for best female R&B artist and best video (”Irreplaceable”), while Hudson was named best new artist and best actress (for Dreamgirls). Other honorees included Forest Whitaker (best actor for The Last King of Scotland), Ne-Yo (best male R&B artist), T.I. (best hip-hop artist), Diana Ross (lifetime achievement), and Don Cheadle (given a special award for his humanitarian efforts). (Reuters)

Zak Penn developing TV series
The screenwriter behind such popular superhero fare as X-Men: The Last Stand is now turning his attention to television: For the company BermanBraun — the Berman is Gail Berman, exec producer of TV’s Buffy and Angel — Penn is working on an hourlong action thriller, now titled Section Eight. Though BermanBraun have a first-look deal with NBC, the project is so in-demand it may not necessarily go to that network. (Variety)

Spike Lee on Broadway?
The filmmaker is expected to announce Thursday that he will direct his first theater production, likely a Broadway revival of 1951’s World War II dramedy Stalag 17 (which was turned into a Billy Wilder movie in 1953). (Variety)

More details in Benoit murder-suicide
Wrestling star Chris Benoit likely asphyxiated his wife Nancy on Friday, their 7-year-old son Daniel on Saturday, then later hanged himself, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department said in a press conference yesterday. The Benoits’ bodies were discovered in their Fayetteville, Ga., home on Monday; several legal prescription drugs — including steroids — were found inside the house. A toxicology report is due in three weeks. (

Elizabeth sequel will premiere at Toronto
Elizabeth: The Golden Age won the highest-profile spot — the Gala presentation — at this year’s festival (which runs from Sept. 6-15). In the sequel, Cate Blanchett, who was Oscar-nominated for the first movie, reprises her role as the 16th-century queen of England; Clive Owen costars as Sir Walter Raleigh. (Variety)

Eloise in Paris gets a director
Charles Shyer (2004’s Alfie) has been tapped to helm the big-screen version of the popular children’s book Eloise in Paris. The adaptation is planned as the first of several based on writer Kaye Thompson-Hilary Knight’s beloved series, about a precocious girl who lives in New York’s Plaza Hotel. (Variety)

BBC scores Phil Spector interview
For the first time in 35 years, the legendary music producer — currently on trial for murder in Los Angeles — has given a full-length interview. The BBC will air the interview as part of a 90-minute documentary titled Arena: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector, and is expected to premiere in the fall, after the verdict in his trial is handed down. The BBC says no money changed hands to persuade Spector to talk. (Variety)

TV castings: Myles, Moffett, De Rossi
Sophia Myles (Tristan & Isolde) will be the female lead in CBS’ Moonlight, playing the mortal love interest of a private investigator who also happens to be a vampire. Meanwhile, D.W. Moffett (Hidden Palms) replaces Brett Cullen as the new star of The CW’s Life Is Wild, about a New York veterinarian who relocates his family to a South African game preserve. And Portia de Rossi has landed a recurring role as a lesbian on the upcoming season of Nip/Tuck. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Get ready for Lodger remake
David Ondaatje will direct a reimagining of Alfred Hitchcock’s first movie, 1927’s thriller The Lodger, for Sony. It is unclear whether the studio will release the update — set in present-day L.A. — to theaters or direct to video. (Hollywood Reporter)

Djimon Hounsou to star in action drama
In Get Some, the Oscar-nominated actor (Blood Diamond) will play a martial arts coach and mentor to a teenager (Sean Faris) who joins a Fight Club-style group. Jeff Wadlow (Cry Wolf) will direct. (Hollywood Reporter)


Page Six: A promoter planning a TV documentary on O.J. Simpson claims that Simpson told him he didn’t write a single word of the never-published book If I Did It, and also practiced crying for a never-aired TV interview. After being released from the L.A. County Jail, Paris Hilton spent the day at her family’s Bel-Air mansion receiving visitors and gifts.

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