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Will Smith Attached To Ron Howard's Sci-Fi 'The Forbin Project'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist October 21, 2010 at 1:37AM

Writer Jason Rothenberg Also Hired For 'The Twilight Zone' With Ron Howard spending the last few years going from the sort-of-ok ("Frost/Nixon") to the terrible ("Angels & Demons") to the terrible and homophobic (the upcoming "The Dilemma"), we'd rather lost track of the other projects he had in development, partly because there are so many of them, with the likes of "The Dark Tower," "Legends" and "The Strange Adventure of H.P. Lovecraft" all competing for attention, and partly because we're happy to ignore Ron Howard's prospective projects for as long as we can.
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Writer Jason Rothenberg Also Hired For 'The Twilight Zone'


With Ron Howard spending the last few years going from the sort-of-ok ("Frost/Nixon") to the terrible ("Angels & Demons") to the terrible and homophobic (the upcoming "The Dilemma"), we'd rather lost track of the other projects he had in development, partly because there are so many of them, with the likes of "The Dark Tower," "Legends" and "The Strange Adventure of H.P. Lovecraft" all competing for attention, and partly because we're happy to ignore Ron Howard's prospective projects for as long as we can.

But one of these projects, originally announced nearly four years ago, looks to have gained a little traction, At the beginning of 2007, it was announced that relatively green screenwriter Jason Rothenberg had been hired to pen a new adaptation of the science fiction novel "Colossus," by D.F. Jones, and its two sequels, for Imagine Entertainment as a potential directing vehicle for Howard. The novel, which involves a super-computer designed to protect mankind, which gains self-awareness and then takes control of the world, was previously adapted in 1970 as "Colossus: The Forbin Project" by director Joseph Sargent ("The Taking of Pelham One Two Three").

There'd been no word whatsoever of the project since its announcement, and we'd assumed that the project was now dead, particularly after Shia LaBoeuf vehicle "Eagle Eye" used a similar premise to eye-rollingly ridiculous effect. But buried in another story on Deadline (more on which in a moment) is the news that the project is still moving forward, and that Will Smith, arguably still the biggest movie star on the planet, is attached to the lead (presumably Dr. Forbin, the creator of the fateful computer) .

Smith's been curiously inactive since 2008's "Seven Pounds," but he goes before cameras in "Men In Black 3" any day now, and is mulling over a number of options for his next project after that, including vampire tale "The Legend of Cain," Kathryn Bigelow's "Sleeping Dogs," the long-gestating "The City That Sailed" and "Bad Boys 3," but could this become a front-runner? Howard's likely to want to fit in another project before he begins the mammoth task of adapting "The Dark Tower," and either this or the true story "My Stroke Of Insight," which may star Jodie Foster, could be good candidates.

Deadline's story came about because Rothenberg, who's only produced credit to date was an unaired pilot for a CW show called "Body Politic," but also penned a well-liked adaptation of the sci-fi novel "The Sparrow" that had Brad Pitt attached at one point, has been taken on for another high profile gig: Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way have chosen him to pen the new version of "The Twilight Zone" that they're developing at Warner Bros. The project's been in the works, since 2008, and Rand Ravich ("The Astronaut's Wife") was hired to write a script last year -- it's unknown if Rothenberg will be starting from scratch, or rewriting Ravich's draft.

In fact, details are generally being kept under wraps on the project, although it sounds like a number of the stories from the original series may be incorporated into the script, although whether as an anthology, like the ill-fated 1983 "Twilight Zone: The Movie," or as something more ambitious, remains to be seen. Still, it's a good day all round to be Jason Rothenberg.


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