EW Staff
February 19, 2010 AT 05:00 AM EST


The hottest scripts in Hollywood involve viruses, spies, and — naturally — Taylor Lautner
Two spec scripts with A-list actors have been floating around Hollywood since last week. How and when they sell will be a direct reflection of the star power involved.

First up is Abducted, with Taylor Lautner attached. The script by up-and-coming writer Shawn Christensen is described as a teenage Bourne Identity spy drama that throws a seemingly ordinary kid into a web of intrigue. Lautner recently landed another action role as the human version of the popular ’80s toy in Stretch Armstrong, and he and his camp are aggressively pursuing a hefty fee of $7.5 million for Abducted. (That’s the quote he’s earning for the extreme-flying movie Northern Lights, which will begin production in April.) While it looks like he will wind up receiving that figure for a second time, insiders say the amount is slowing down negotiations, especially since the star, who turned 18 last week, has never carried a movie on his chiseled shoulders alone.

Then there’s Steven Soderbergh‘s ensemble drama Contagion, from writer Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum), which has no lack of stars. The $60 million project — touted as Traffic with a virus outbreak — has already attracted a slew of A-listers like Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Marion Cotillard, who are all attached. Now reps are hard at work figuring out the fine points. With all those stars involved, that will be no small task.
Nicole Sperling

TV execs are finally laughing again. Soon you will be too, thanks to a crop of new sitcoms.
Here’s another reason to like Modern Family: ABC’s success with it and fellow Wednesday-night series Cougar Town has reinvigorated the once-ailing sitcom genre and inspired the broadcast networks to develop lots of promising new comedies for the 2010-11 season. ABC leads the pack with 12 pilots this year, including a new series called Mr. Sunshine that stars Matthew Perry as a self-absorbed sports-arena manager. Fox has eight comedies in development, including a new one from the creators of Will & Grace about a family-owned brewery. CBS also has eight, including a sitcom about overeaters from Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory). And NBC has five pilots, including a new project about a group of male friends that’s penned by and will star Mad About You‘s Paul Reiser. ”It certainly feels better than it did a few years ago,” admits veteran scribe Greg Malins (How I Met Your Mother), who’s developing a sitcom for ABC called Freshmen that will star ScrubsSarah Chalke as one of several first-year members of Congress. Adds Malins: ”The eagerness to develop comedy seems to have come back, and ABC’s night of all-new comedies is a big reason. Plus, CBS is still killing on Mondays, so given how multicamera [sitcoms] are cheaper to make, it’s a good time to be in comedy. I even got one picked up. That should say something right there.”
Lynette Rice, with additional reporting by Whitney Pastorek

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