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Ben & Jerry

Affleck and Lopez sign new movie deals. He'll play a pioneering college basketball coach, and she's taking more ''Dance Lessons''

After Disney pulled the plug last week on Ben Affleck's comedy ''Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,'' observers wondered if he and ''Gigli'' costar Jennifer Lopez were still in demand. Turns out they are, at least when they're not working together.

Apparently, there are no hard feelings between Disney and Affleck. Last week's buzz was that the studio felt no one would want to see a movie that featured Affleck at a wedding, but the studio insisted that it yanked ''Ghosts'' from the production pipeline over casting problems. In any case, Disney is ready to work with him on a non-romantic project, casting him as a college basketball coach in ''Glory Road,'' Variety reports.

Affleck will star as Texas Western coach Don Haskins, whose winning 1966 squad was the first all-African-American team to win the NCAA championship. (They beat an all-white team from Kentucky.) The film will reunite him with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced Affleck's ''Armageddon'' and ''Pearl Harbor,'' as well as the similar sports-and-race drama ''Remember the Titans.'' Affleck aficionados will recall that he had a blink-and-you'll-miss it part early in his movie career as a high school basketball player in the movie ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer.''

Affleck's off-again/on-again fiancée also signed a new movie deal. Variety reports that J. Lo will produce and possibly star in ''Dance Lessons'' for Paramount. The former Fly Girl has already played a dance teacher in ''Shall We Dance?'', shot this summer opposite Richard Gere, for Miramax. This one will be a little different; the details are being kept under wraps, but Variety describes ''Lessons'' as a cross between ''Footloose'' and ''The Full Monty.''

Originally posted Oct 30, 2003