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Apr 04, 2008 | 5:41am EDT

Denzel Washington is attached to a project based on Robert Ludlum’s The Matarese Circle, while Judi Dench and Nicole Kidman are in talks to join Rob Marshall’s big-screen musical, Nine.

Matarese revolves around two secret agents, an American and a Russian, who must work together to fight a mysterious group of killers known as the Matarese. The twist: The agents, Bradley Scofield and Vasili Taleniekov, have been nemeses for years, with each responsible for killing someone close to the other. According to those familiar with the project, Washington would play Scofield, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Nearly all the major studios have heard at least a version of the pitch, says the Reporter, with several thought to be keenly interested; however, no deal had been struck.

Ludlum properties are hot in Hollywood nowadays thanks to Universal's success with the Bourne series, which has earned more than $900 million worldwide.

Meanwhile, Dench and Kidman could join Javier Bardem, Penelope CruzMarion Cotillard and Sophia Loren in Marshall’s adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Nine.

The film was postponed from its original March start date when the late Anthony Minghella didn't have enough time to rework Michael Tolkin's screenplay before the Writers Guild strike. The film is now tentatively scheduled for a September start, says the Reporter.

Kidman is due to give birth in the summer, giving her several months of maternity leave before the film's proposed start. Her filming could also be scheduled in the latter part of the shoot.

Kidman's singing and dancing chops were evident in Moulin Rouge, but Dench also has extensive musical theater experience, notes THR. She played Sally Bowles in the original London production of Cabaret in 1968, and won the 1995 Olivier Award for best actress in a musical in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music.

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