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March 23, 2008
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Will Smith set to conquer Egypt?
By JIM SLOTEK and KEVIN WILLIAMSON -- Sun Media


He's played a real-life champ in Ali, and various forms of action-men fighting aliens, robots and post-apocalyptic vampires.

But Will Smith still doesn't have a sword-and-sandals epic to his credit like Brad Pitt (Troy) and Colin Farrell (Alexander).

Enter Taharqa, the last Pharaoh of the 25th or Nubian Dynasty (the one in which blacks of Ethiopian descent ran Egypt).

Carl Franklin (Devil In A Blue Dress) has already banged out a script called The Last Pharaoh, full of Ethiopians battling Assyrians for the throne of Amun-Ra. Now it's being polished by Chris Hauty (Never Back Down), so look for some mixed martial arts to excite the masses.

"It's an open writing assignment from Will's company. It's something he's taken a big interest in," says Hauty, who's had a few projects fall apart in recent years (including an animated version of Moby Dick that Dreamworks started working on and dropped because it decided to get out of traditional animation after Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron gave up the ghost at the box office).

The actual "last Pharaoh," for you hair-splitters out there, was Cleopatra.

The Aviatrix: Hilary Swank is calling Toronto home until June, starring in Amelia, the biopic of legendary flyer Amelia Earhart (who mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific in 1937 during an attempt to circumnavigate the world by air). It's directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding), who became available when Shantaram, the movie she was supposed to be filming with Johnny Depp right about now, was postponed because of the Writers Guild Strike. Hollywood really is like one big game of dominoes, isn't it?

American Idiot: George Clooney reports he's happily completed his "trilogy of idiots" for the Coen Bros.

He's referring to Burn After Reading, a return to screwball comedy for the filmmaking siblings after the blood-soaked nihilism of their No Country for Old Men.

Opening in early September, it stars Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich and concerns top-secret CIA documents that fall into the clutches of a personal trainer played by Pitt. Clooney previously worked with the Coens on Oh Brother Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty. "I am over head and shoulders over the other idiots I've played ... The only thing that makes me feel better is that Brad is being a bigger idiot than I am in it -- so that makes me feel safe."

Serkis a 'Tin'-Man: After portraying Gollum and King Kong, Andy Serkis is adding to his motion-capture repertoire.

According to the British press, he's already begun work on Steven Spielberg's and Peter Jackson's Tintin trilogy, based on the Belgian comic-strip character.

Like last year's Beowulf, Tintin will be digitally animated in 3D. Spielberg is directing the first instalment later this year. Jackson will then handle directing duties on the second.

Expect the Spielberg-helmed chapter sometime in late 2009 or 2010.

Going Green: No one is expecting to see Kermit the Frog's genitals on the big screen, but other than presumably being family-friendly, what will the next Muppet movie look like now that Jason Segel -- star and screenwriter of the forthcoming Judd Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which apparently features its fair share of full frontal male nudity -- has been hired to pen a new film about Jim Henson's beloved characters? Just asking.




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