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LOKEN, ZANE RECRUITED

Kristanna Loken and Billy Zane will star in "Janjaweed," a thriller set in Darfur that Uwe Boll will begin filming on location in South Africa on Feb. 23. The Brightlight Pictures and Event Films co-production will be produced by Boll, Shawn Williamson, Dan Clarke and Chris Roland.

GLAAD SETS NOMS

"Milk" picked up another nomination Monday as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced nominees for its 20th annual GLAAD Media Awards. Best picture Oscar nominee "Milk," from Focus, was included in GLAAD's outstanding film in wide release category, where it will compete against Miramax's "Brideshead Revisted," Sony's "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," Warner Bros.' "RocknRolla" and the Weinstein Co.'s "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." For a list of nominees, see THR.com/awards.

PLUM PICKS 'WIFE'

Plum Pictures has optioned rights to Curtis Sittenfeld's novel "American Wife," about a presidential first lady with a strong resemblance to Laura Bush. Plum executive Daniela Taplin noted that it's a perfect vehicle for a strong leading lady — with presidential ambitions, of course.

Stan Lee Vs. Stan Lee

The long-running battle over Stan Lee's comic book characters is heating up, with the shareholders of a company bearing his name announcing a lawsuit against Marvel Entertainment, Lee and others. The shareholders of Stan Lee Media Inc. claim in a suit to be filed in New York that Lee transferred his interest in Marvel characters to SLMI. That entity was placed into bankruptcy by Lee in 2001 and re-emerged in November 2006 with new shareholders, who claim they are owed as much as $750 million. Lee denies the allegations and has filed a $50 million lawsuit against SLMI, claiming the company is thwarting his efforts to develop such properties as "The Accuser" and "The Drifter" via his first-look deals with Disney and Virgin Comics.

ITALY FILM BIZ BLOOMS

Spending in the Italian film sector rose in 2008 despite the economic slowdown that gripped the country starting in the second half of the year. Italian cinema association ANICA said Monday that Italy produced 123 films last year, a dramatic jump from 90 films in each of the previous two years. Overall investment also rose to €253 million ($329 million) on the back of a 13% increase in private sector spending.

MMPA SETS LUNCHEON

The Multicultural Motion Picture Assn. will hold its annual awards week luncheon Feb. 20 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.
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