Ramping up its production activities, Lions Gate Films is to back The Cat's Meow, a drama set against the golden age of Hollywood that intriguingly casts Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies and Eddie Izzard as Charlie Chaplin under the direction of maverick cinephile director Peter Bogdanovich.

Lions Gate, which last week announced its most expensive production to date - Frailty to star Mattthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton under Paxton's direction - is fully financing the film which started shooting this month in Germany and Greece.

The Cat's Meow takes place during a lavish birthday party on William Randolph Hearst's yacht in the roaring 20s. Attendee Chaplin is vying for the affections of Hearst's young mistress Davies but also planning to be head of Hearst's newly formed movie studio. Chaplin's main competitor for that post is Hearst protege Thomas Ince who incites Hearst's jealousy of Marion's attraction to Chaplin.

Among the other guests adding to the intrigue are legendary gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons. All have designs on Hearst's money and power. By the end of the party one of the guests is dead and Hearst has to orchestrate a cover-up.

Bogdanovich hasn't made a theatrical feature film since The Thing Called Love with River Phoenix in 1993.

The Cat's Meow and Frailty join a growing slate of films being handled for worldwide sales by Lions Gate Films International. Others include German horror movie Flashback, Michael Rymer's ensemble piece Perfume and Canadian horror picture Ginger Snaps which was a hit at the Toronto Film Festival recently.