Oscar winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have joined Miramax Television and HBO in a project titled “Greenlight,” in which an aspiring filmmaker will receive $1 million and the chance to direct his or her debut feature. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project will be chronicled by HBO and aired in a 13-episode, half-hour “reality” series on HBO, beginning with Damon and Affleck selecting the winner and ending with the director walking down a red carpet for the movie’s premiere, Miramax Television President Billy Campbell said.
The filmmaker will also get to talk with directors, including Kevin Williamson and Kevin Smith, who found success with their debut projects.
Campbell said the contest will begin in the fall, and the movie is expected to be released in early 2002. Aspiring directors can submit screenplays to the “Greenlight” Web site www.projectgreenlight.com.
IN THE FAST LANE: Diane Lane, currently costarring in the blockbuster “The Perfect Storm,” is in final talks to sign a perfect deal: two back-to-back films — “Hard Ball” and “Criminal Conversation” — for Paramount, Daily Variety reports. Lane’s current projects include Sony’s “Glass House” opposite Stellan Skarsgard and Leelee Sobieski and “Hard Ball” opposite Keanu Reeves.
IN THE ZONE: Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, David Arquette, Natasha Lyonne and Steve Buscemi are in final talks to star in “The Gray Zone,” a Holocaust drama slated to begin production Aug. 28. Variety reports that writer-director Tim Blake Nelson will helm the indie picture based on his award-winning Off Broadway play.
IN THE QUEEN’S COURT: “Friends”‘ co-star Matt LeBlanc has signed up to star in the $15 million indie comedy “All the Queen’s Men,” according to Variety. The World War II film, set to begin shooting Aug. 3 in Europe, centers on a team of British Special Forces agents that must in disguise infiltrate a female-run Enigma factory in Berlin and bring back a decoding device to end the war.
IN THE CLASSROOM: Mary Tyler Moore will attempt to teach a group of juveniles a lesson or two in “Cheaters,” which goes before cameras for New Line Pictures on Wednesday in Vancouver, B.C., according to Variety.
IN “EPISODE II”: Lucasfilm today announced the casting of horror-film star Christopher Lee in “Star Wars: Episode II.” In an announcement posted on the Star Wars Web site www.starwars.com/episode-i/news/, Lucasfilm said that Lee will play a “charismatic separatist.” Production is already under way on “Episode II” in Australia.