Helena Bonham Carter has joined Steve Martin in the cast of Artisan Entertainment's dark comedy Novocaine which is currently in pre-production. Martin plays a successful dentist who finds himself the target of a con gone bad; Bonham Carter will play Martin's newest patient, a seductress who sends his life into a downward spiral. Produced by Paul Mones and Daniel Rosenberg, the picture will start shooting in the spring and marks the directorial debut of Arizona Dream screenwriter David Atkins. The deal for Bonham Carter was negotiated by Beck Sloca on Artisan's behalf and by UTA on Bonham Carter's.
Mike Goodridge


Rachel Leigh Cook - the up and coming star with roles opposite Sylvester Stallone in Get Carter and Ryan Philippe and Tim Robbins in Antitrust under her belt - has signed to star in Myriad Pictures' thriller Conspiracy which will start shooting in May.

Robert Levy, Peter Abrams and Jennifer Gibgot of Tapestry Films will produce the film for Myriad in association with Unapix Entertainment. Director is Jay Lowri whose first film was comedy 12 Stops On The Road To Nowhere which won the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival last year.

Cook plays a young woman pursued by two young men. The movie starts with one of the men bruised, beaten and stumbling down a secluded road.
Mike Goodridge


Nick Nolte is confirmed for the lead in Interlight's White Jazz, based on the James Ellroy novel that concludes the author's Los Angeles noir quartet which that also includes LA Confidential.

The $28m thriller starts shooting this August with Nolte starring opposite John Cusack. Ellroy penned the adaptation and renowned cinematographer Robert Richardson makes his directorial debut.

Richardson, who is nominated yet again this year for another cinematograpy Oscar for Snow Falling On Cedars, is best known for his rule-breaking collaborations with Oliver Stone including Platoon, Natural Born Killers, Nixon, Born On The Fourth Of July, U-Turn and JFK (for which Richardson won an Academy Award). He recently shot Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out The Dead.
Mike Goodridge


Hilltop Entertainment is set to make history - by making a movie about the American experience in the Vietnam war in Vietnam. Going Back, a $12m action drama starring Casper Van Dien and directed by Sidney J Furie, will start shooting in Vietnam at the end of April for ten weeks.

The picture, which deals with the stress of being in the war on an elite US unit, will shoot on location in Hanoi and in the local countryside as well as using Vietnamese military vehicles and personnel. The Vietnamese government will even contribute American vehicles left over from the conflict.

"The picture deals more with the war like Saving Private Ryan did on World War II than anything else," said Hilltop chief Harel Goldstein, "which is why the government looked on it favourably."
Mike Goodridge


BV International is restarting sales on Cecilia, the big budget period piece about composer Puccini and his love life, which is spearheading the company's expansion into the English-language market.

Production is now scheduled to start in late summer or autumn having been delayed by the death of the film's original producer last year.

The $15m piece to be directed by The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kirshner is now being produced by David Gordian. Gordian is setting up the film as a Franco-Italian-Spanish co-production.

Jeremy Irons remains committed to star, but scheduling problems have meant that the previously tipped French star Virginie Ledoyen is now unavailable.
Patrick Frater


Treasure Films, the Irish production outfit behind The Sales Co's Berlin entry Saltwater, is developing a raft of projects including a tale of local newspaper journalism by Lawrence Donegan, formerly of UK pop band Lloyd Cole And The Commotions.

Donegan's story, No News At Throat Lake, follows his time working on a controversial local paper. In addition to that project there is The Sunshine In My Life, which Jim Keeble is adapting from the book about an Irish bare-knuckle boxer, and Trust, a political thriller being written by playwright Don O'Kelly.

Treasure, the production company of director Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down) and producer Robert Walpole, is also developing a thriller written by Saltwater director Conor McPherson and to be directed by Breathnach. Titled MacIntyre, the project is set in the American deep south and revolves around a black woman police officer.

Additionally, Treasure, is readying Breathnach's $7m romantic comedy The Chosen Few to put through its first-look deal with Fine Line.
Adam Minns


Michelle Yeoh, the Hong Kong-Chinese martial arts superstar, is poised to unveil her production debut The Touch, Yeoh, a former Bond girl who will be next be seen in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is also expected to star in the $10m action thriller, which will mark the biggest ever production for fast expanding Media Asia.

"What will make The Touch stand out from the crowd is its East-West setting and style." Said Media Asia group managing director Thomas Chung. Set to begin production in the last quarter of this year, for release in summer 2001 the project was stylistically inspired by the Cirque Du Soleil performance art troupe and will make use of actors from China and East Europe.

"We are very excited to bring home some of the crème de la crème sons and daughters to where they belong," said Chung.
Patrick Frater


Atmosphere Entertainment has completed financing on four new pictures, three of which will be executive produced by Chuck Fries.

The company will go into production this year on Petals On The Wind, the sequel to Flowers In The Attic, which is based on the novel by VC Andrews; comedy The Chicken And The Cheerleader to be produced by Claudio Castravelli, a UK-set horror picture called Roseblood to be directed by Rafael Zalinksi (Screwballs), and Perseverance, a $5m fantasy picture about a lobster fisherman who finds some glowing seaweed which can heal anything short of death.

Atmosphere has also sealed financing on its $10m movie adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer's The Slave to be written and directed by Harry Jakobs. It will be produced by Mark Buntzman, Chris Fries and Adam Fast.

Atmosphere has also boarded The Cleaners which it will produce with Eclectic Bet Entertainment. Directed by Tom Hodges, the movie will star and be executive produced by Lou Diamond Phillips.
Mike Goodridge


Tsunami Entertainment has added three projects to its production slate, with