Peter Sarsgaard is ready to check his luggage for his next film.

The 33-year-old actor has signed on to join Jodie Foster in the in-flight thriller “Flight Plan,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The story centers on a woman (Foster) whose daughter mysteriously disappears while on board a plane. Sarsgaard plays a passenger who helps the mother deal with the situation.

Robert Schwentke will direct the project, which begins shooting in September in Los Angeles.

Sarsgaard is known for his roles in indies such as “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Shattered Glass.” He will next be seen in “Garden State,” which opens July 30.

Banderas directing

Antonio Banderas is setting his feet on “The Englishmen’s Road.”

The 43-year-old actor will take his seat behind the cameras this time for the Spanish-language production, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Based on Antonio Soler’s “El Camino de los Ingleses,” the project follows a group of boys during their final summer before becoming adults.

“It will be a Spanish production with new and unknown actors,” says Banderas, who intends to start shooting in 2006.

This is Banderas’ second foray into directing, after 1999’s “Crazy in Alabama,” which stars his wife Melanie Griffith.

The Spanish-born actor can currently be heard as the voice of the cheeky Puss in Boots in DreamWorks’ “Shrek 2.” His upcoming sequel “Zorro 2” is scheduled for release in 2005.



MALKOVICH TO WATCH PAINT DRY IN VIENNA

John Malkovich is picking up his brush and palette.

The 50-year-old actor will star as the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt in the German-funded “Klimt,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. German actors Veronica Ferres, Otto Sander and France’s Laetitia Casta round out the cast.

Klimt lived from 1862-1918 and founded the school of painting known as the Vienna Sezession, which embodies the high-keyed erotic, psychological, and aesthetic preoccupations of turn-of-the-century Vienna’s opulent intellectual world. His art nouveau style exhibited a wide range of influences – from photography, medieval woodcuts and symbolist art to classical Greek, Egyptian and Byzantine art.

Raoul Ruiz, who worked previously with Malkovich on “Time Regained” and “Savage Souls,” will direct. The project begins production in September.

Malkovich last starred opposite Rowan Atkinson in “Johnny English” and is currently filming the long-awaited “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” based on the cult favorite novel by Douglas Adams.



‘SPIDER-MAN 2′ SWINGS INTO IMAX

The larger-than-life heroics of Spider-Man are just about to get bigger.

“Spider-Man 2” will be released in a digitally re-mastered format for IMAX theaters beginning Friday, July 23.

“When you have a movie like ‘Spider-Man 2,’ it makes sense to offer audiences an opportunity to experience the film in this incredible format,” says Jeff Blake, Vice Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The comic book-inspired sequel pits the webslinger (Tobey Maguire) against a new archenemy, Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina), the multi-tentacled mad scientist cyborg. If this weren’t bad enough, Peter Parker must also deal with the rigors of college and his mixed feelings when Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) begins to date the son of his mean boss.

Ever since its release on Wednesday, June 30, “Spider-Man 2” has broken numerous box-office records, including the best opening day, best Wednesday opening and best first six days.



‘TANNER’ UPDATE ENLISTS REDFORD, ALBRIGHT

Like its predecessor, the sequel to “Tanner ‘88” is lining up some prominent showbiz and political figures to blur the line between real and fictional.

“Tanner on Tanner,” the Sundance Channel’s update of the 1988 political satire, begins filming next week. It will also travel to the Democratic National Convention at the end of the month as it brings the story of fictional former presidential candidate Jack Tanner (Michael Murphy) into the present.

The sequel will focus on Tanner’s daughter, Alex (Cynthia Nixon, “Sex and the City”), who’s seeking funding for a documentary on the toll running for president takes on candidates, especially those who fall short of the White House. Pamela Reed and Matt Malloy are also reprising their roles from “Tanner ‘88.”

Among those who have signed on for cameos in the three-episode series are former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Oscar winner/Sundance Channel founder Robert Redford, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, the Rev. Al Sharpton – who ran for the Democratic nomination during this year’s primaries – and director Martin Scorsese.

“Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau and Robert Altman are writing and directing “Tanner on Tanner,” as they did with “Tanner ‘88,” which debuted on HBO 16 years ago and which the Sundance Channel re-aired earlier this year. “Tanner on Tanner” is scheduled to premiere Tuesday, Oct. 5.



THE BADGE IS BACK FOR ‘POLICE ACADEMY 8′

Another ‘80s staple is back, but it’s not another sitcom adapted for the big screen.

The mildly popular law enforcement comedy franchise “Police Academy” has returned for its eighth installment, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I felt it was time to start again,” says series creator Paul Maslansky. “I saw that ‘Starsky & Hutch’ and a number of other revivals were doing really well. ‘Police Academy’ has such a great history. I thought, ‘Why not?”‘

“Police Academy” first came on the crime scene in 1984, and the comedy about misfit cops continued for six more films, including the latest sequel, “Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow” in 1994. Steve Guttenberg and Bobcat Goldthwait appeared in the first few films, but later dropped out, making way for series regulars David Graf, Bubba Smith, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey and Leslie Easterbrook.

Many of the original cast members will combine with new “original talent” for the eighth film.

“We became very much like a family,” says Maslansky, who will act as executive producer. “It’s is very unusual to have seven films with virtually all the same major cast.”

Maslansky, 70, is reportedly working on the upcoming “Stunt School” and a biopic about jazz king Buddy Bolden.



‘DAY AFTER TOMORROW’ IS ITS OWN DISASTER

A Harvard University professor’s claim that the disaster flick “The Day After Tomorrow” ripped off his novel was rejected by a German court on Wednesday, July 7.

Ubaldo DiBenedetto, 77, who wrote “Polar Day 9” under the name Kyle Donner, says that writer-director Roland Emmerich stole parts of his book for the blockbuster film, reports the AP.

The professor points to similar scenes – such as the ones at the Mexican border and the Arctic research station – and similar characters in both the film and book. DiBenedetto’s lawyer had requested that the film’s German distributor place signs in theaters crediting the author.

Judge Margarete Reske, however, says that the similarities “simply could not be found” and the film and book told “essentially entirely different stories against the background of an approaching Ice Age.”

“Day After” centers on abrupt and devastating climate changes brought about by global warming. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal and has earned over $180 million to date.



TWO MORE FOR ‘FANTASTIC FOUR’

Ioan Gruffudd and Chris Evans are about to embark on a fantastic voyage.

The pair will join Michael Chiklis as part of the quartet of superheroes in the movie adaptation of popular Marvel comic series “The Fantastic Four,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The project will center on four people who are mutated by cosmic radiation while aboard a spaceship. Gruffudd will play Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards, who can bend or elongate any body part, while Evans plays Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, who can bend fire to his will, including bursting his body into flame. Chiklis is already set as Ben “The Thing” Grimm, a rocky misshapen monster with tremendous strength and a tender heart.

“Finding the absolute right fit has felt like a talent search,” says 20th Century Fox president Hutch Parker. “And the three we have assembled each in their own way embodies the essence of what makes those characters special and beloved.”

The final part, Sue Storm/Invisible Girl, has yet to be cast, although “The Notebook’s” Rachel McAdams and “Honey” star Jessica Alba are contenders. A casting announcement is planned within the next day or so.

Fox hopes to mimic the recent success of another Marvel franchise property, “Spider-Man 2” – which opened Wednesday, June 30 – by scheduling “Fantastic Four” to be released the same date next year.

Evans, 23, recently starred in “The Perfect Score” and will star opposite Kim Basinger in “Cellular,” which opens in September.

Gruffudd, 30, has starred in all three A&E “Horatio Hornblower” miniseries and currently plays Lancelot in director Antoine Fuqua’s “King Arthur.”



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AP-NY-07-08-04 1733EDT


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