Around the World


Tick tock

Nov. 1 is suddenly looming very large for every exec, agent, actor and below-the-line worker in town. That's the potential walk date for WGA scribes, 90% of whom voted to give their leadership strike authorization when their contract with producers expires. The two sides haven't met much since July 16, and key issues include everyone's favorite new bone of contention: Internet compensation.

All things considered, they haven't had that much impact on production, but the wildfires raging in Southern California managed to slow down shooting on Fox's "24," CBS' "Cold Case" and ABC freshman "Big Shots." No telling how many industryites were forced to stay home to protect their houses.

Underdog story

Finally, Rupert Murdoch catches a break. The mogul's News Corp. is now the world's most valuable media conglomerate. Despite a stock dip last week, the Fox parent managed to edge Time War-ner with a market capitalization of $67.79 billion compared to TW's $67.32 billion. Disney, Sony and Viacom round out the top five.

Comeback kid

Francis Ford Coppola made his much-heralded return to the big screen as "Youth Without Youth," his first feature in 10 years, debuted to mixed reviews at the RomaCinemaFest. In a widely quoted interview, Coppola asked only that viewers "think that my film was interesting." Los Angeles and New York audiences will be able to decide for themselves when Sony Pictures Classics rolls it out Dec. 14.

Hard time

Fox is rejuvenating that ol' standby — the women-in-prison genre. The "Prison Break" spinoff, tentatively titled "Prison Break: Cherry Hill," will center on the character of Molly, which will be introduced on the flagship show this season. A search is under way for the lead.

20th Century Fox Television locked up "Bones" creator Hart Hanson with a new eight-figure, three-year pact. Under the deal, he'll stay on as showrunner on the dramedy while continuing to work on the sports agent/investigator drama "Lies and Promises." That project already has a pilot commitment with a penalty.

Added value

Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited" is adding more than theaters today, attaching the helmer's Natalie Portman starrer "Hotel Chevalier" to prints of the comedy. The 13-minute short, which provides a back story for "Darjeeling," also gives audiences their first glimpse of Portman's derriere.

Joint action

Superstars/activists Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are throwing their considerable weight behind a new HBO series that will look at the lives of international aid workers. The power couple is exec producing the series with its scribe, "An Inconvenient Truth" producer Scott Burns. It's Jolie's first project with the pay net since 1998's "Gia."

Meanwhile, the HBO documentary "Journeys With George" is about to get the big-screen treatment. Documentarian Alexandra Pelosi will see her 2002 pro-ject fictionalized under a deal with the newly formed co-venture between Steven Zaillian's Film Rites and Mandate Pictures.

Now that he's uttered his final "You're fired" in primetime, The Donald is teaming with Reveille and Twentieth Television in a bid for an early fringe time slot near you. The half-hour strip, pegged as "Dr. Phil" meets "Judge Judy," will see Trump mediate financial disputes.

End credits

Kevin Costner is playing dad to a spooky Ivana Baquero in Gold Circle's "The New Daughter." … Angela Bassett and Noah Wyle will tell "Nothing but the Truth" for director Rod Lurie. … Zooey Deschanel is the woman opposite Jim Carrey's "Yes Man" for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow. … Megan Fox is the body in question for supernatural comedy thriller "Jennifer's Body," from "Juno" scribe Diablo Cody.

Edited by Chad Williams