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Jason Priestley to direct 'Mud Puppy'

Romantic comedy centers on battle for frog-plagued vineyard

TORONTO -- Jason Priestley is set to direct "Mud Puppy," a feature from Angel Entertainment and Lexico Prods. about a playboy wine-lover battling a female environmentalist for control of a frog-plagued wine vineyard.

The romantic comedy is based on a true story about a British Columbia vineyard overcome by pesky amphibians. Monica Hilborn penned the script, and Telefilm Canada and pay TV operator Corus Entertainment helped bankroll development.

No word on casting. Production is set for summer 2011.

Priestley already co-hosts the celebrity wine-tasting TV series "Hollywood and Vines" and co-owns a winery in interior British Columbia.

In other Canadian film news, Vincenzo Natali is to direct the big-screen adaptation of cyberpunk author William Gibson's 1984 masterwork "Neuromancer," it was announced Thursday by indie producer Fire Development Inc. and pay TV operator Astral Media's the Harold Greenberg Fund.

Joseph Khan was previously tapped to direct the Gibson novel, with Hayden Christensen starring, before Natali stepped in to lens the picture.

"Neuromancer" tells the story of a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to work on the ultimate hack.

Warner Bros. is set to release Natali's latest film, the creature feature "Splice," in June after a world bow at Sundance.

The Canadian-French co-production, which stars Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, was largely financed by French executive producer Gaumont.

Other homegrown films receiving backing from Astral Media include Thom Fitzgerald ("3 Needles") writing and directing "Consecrated Ground," based on the stage play by George Elroy Boyd.

And Kari Skogland is set to direct "Prisoner of Tehran," a dramatic thriller based on an autobiographical novel by Toronto writer Marina Nemat.