H'wood dominates Medusa

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Tony Gilroy's legal thriller "Michael Clayton," starring George Clooney, and Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" are among the highlights of the Hollywood-accented 2007-08 season announced late Thursday by Italian film giant Medusa.

The lineup of about 30 films, bought or developed for a total of about €90 million ($123 million), is the first major news from the company since it was absorbed by Italian broadcaster Mediaset two weeks ago. Although billionaire media mogul Silvio Berlusconi controls both companies, the move is seen to signal a move toward more content development for Mediaset.

But Medusa board member Giuliano Adreani, speaking at a packed news conference at Rome's hilltop Casina Valadier said that the company's move underneath the Mediaset umbrella had little impact on this lineup.

"Medusa will continue to be an autonomous organization dedicated to making and distributing films," Adreani said. "That will remain the same."

While "Michael Clayton" will screen at the upcoming Venice Film Festival and "Planet Terror" is set for a European premiere at Locarno, many of the other films are too distant to be on any festival's schedule yet. Those titles include Sacha Baron Cohen's "Bruno"; the Barry Levinson comedy "What Just Happened?" that stars Bruce Willis, Robert De Niro, John Turturro and Stanley Tucci; the Coen brothers' "Burn After Reading," with Brad Pitt and Clooney; and the Julia Roberts starrer "Fireflies in the Garden."

Other films to be distributed in Italy by Medusa include the Nicolas Cage starrer "Next"; James Mangold's Western "3:10 to Yuma," starring Russell Crowe; Francois Girard's "Silk," with Keira Knightley; and the Josh Hartnett vehicle "30 Days of Night."

Among the significant Italian films on the slate are Dario Argento's gothic horror film "The Third Mother," starring the director's daughter, Asia Argento; Andrea Porporati's Mafia turncoat drama "The Sweet and the Bitter"; "As You Want Me" from Wolfgang de Biasi; and Giuseppe Tornatore's latest, "Baaria."
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