CUE THE DINOSAURS
Universal Pictures is moving ahead with plans for a fourth installment of "Jurassic Park," with Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy returning to produce the project.
Spielberg directed "Jurassic Park" (1993) and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997), and produced the second and third installments in the franchise. Kennedy, currently at work producing "Sea Biscuit," was a producer on all three "Jurassic Park" movies -- which have grossed an aggregate $767 million at the U.S. box office.
According to reports in Hollywood, Universal is talking with William Monahan about writing the screenplay. Monahan wrote "Tripoli" for director Ridley Scott, and is working with Scott on an untitled epic about the Crusades.
WHILE WAITING FOR '8 MILE' TO OPEN
Universal and Imagine Entertainment, which will release the new Eminem movie "8 Mile" this weekend, are already smiling before the first paying customer walks through the multiplex door -- given the sales numbers for the movie soundtrack, which hit stores on Tuesday.
"8 Mile" unloaded 702,000 copies this week, according to record sales tracker Nielsen SoundScan data. The CD has only four fresh Eminem songs -- otherwise, it features tunes by D-12, Nas, Jay-Z, Young Zee, Macy Gray, Obie Trice and others.
The movie -- directed by Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") is set to open in almost 2,500 theaters Friday. Box-office analysts expect "8 Mile" will gross between $25 million and $30 million and finish first in its opening weekend.
SIMON RETURNS TO SERIES TV
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Neil Simon is getting back into series TV, with plans to write and executive produce a half-hour comedy pilot for ABC.
Simon -- part of the legendary writing team on "Your Show of Shows" and other early variety show -- is working on a show about two couples who separate. Putting a new spin on Simon's "The Odd Couple," the show has the male halves of the separated couples moving in together, and the female halves doing the same -- next door to the boys.
ABC comedy development head Stephanie Leifer told Daily Variety it was "amazing" just to listen to Simon pitch the show.
"We couldn't be more thrilled to be in business with a comic legend," Leifer said. "Obviously, the main selling point was the chance to broadcast his words on our network. But the idea and characters he pitched are right in line with what's working for us right now: strong character-driven comedy about real people and their relationships."
Network officials hope to have the show ready for the fall 2003 prime time schedule.
'SURVIVOR: FEDERAL COURT'
CBS has filed suit against ABC and Granada Entertainment USA -- which is producing "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" -- claiming that the planned reality TV series infringes on CBS' trademark for the hit series "Survivor."
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, accuses ABC and Granada of unfair competition and seeks punitive damages -- as well as an injunction barring ABC from producing or televising "I'm a Celebrity."
According to the suit, the ABC show was "consciously designed to mimic" the CBS hit.
"Like 'Survivor,' 'Celebrity' strands a group of participants in a remote and inhospitable location," said the suit, "where the participants are forced to subsist on rice and water (just as in 'Survivor') and compete in a series of physical and mental challenges (just as in 'Survivor')."
Plans call for "I'm a Celebrity" to reach ABC's prime time schedule early next year.
Producers promise it's not a sequel to Jim Carrey's 1994 hit "Dumb & Dumber," but plans are under way for a new comedy called "Smart and Smarter" about a pair of brothers, both geniuses, who are raised in an insulated environment -- but find out how little they actually know when they are unexpectedly dumped into the real world.
Kevin Allen is set to direct. Allen is best known for directing the 1999 comedy "The Big Tease," starring Craig Ferguson ("The Drew Carey Show") as a Glasgow hairdresser trying to crack the inner circle at an international gathering of hair stylists.