Screen Talk: Anna's all smiles

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Comedian, actress and ideas guru Anna Faris is also a movie producer selling ideas around town. Faris just sold an untitled comedy pitch to Paramount based on a funny incident that happened to her in real life.

Picture the scene: Faris is recounting the comedic incident to her agent and manager and a few days later she's selling it to Paramount as her own starring vehicle. Details are under wraps but it revolves around Faris and a new roommate who turns out to be a stalker. The idea was further developed by writer Deanna Kizis who will now write the script.

Masters of disaster

Found-footage flicks are fast becoming a hot genre for Hollywood after the box-office success of movies such as Paranormal Activity, The Last Exorcism and Cloverfield. Now film-maker Barry Levinson is in line to direct The Bay, a found-footage flick chronicling a horrifying biological disaster that arises from the Chesapeake Bay. Written by Michael Wallach, the story sees an isopod parasite that carries an untreatable disease infecting a small town on the bay. Victims capture the terror on home videos and the web.

A lawn unto themselves

Gnomophobia, the fear of garden gnomes, is set to grip one Hollywood studio in the coming months. Sony Pictures Animation is busy optioning the rights to How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, a book written by Chuck Sambuchino. Sambuchino's book is billed as a "comprehensive survival guide that will help you prevent, prepare for and ward off an imminent home invasion by the common garden gnome. Once thought of as harmless yard decorations, evidence is mounting that these smiling lawn statues are poised and ready to wreak havoc." Sony has also attached none other than Robert Zemeckis to produce the project. It's big news in Hollywood because Zemeckis has recently found himself licking his commercial wounds after his production Mars Needs Moms flopped at the box office.

A recipe for big-screen success

Former Daily Show correspondent Lauren Weedman is to test her big-screen comedic acting chops with a turn in Five-Year Engagement. Produced by Hollywood comedy producer golden boy Judd Apatow, Engagement is directed by Nicholas Stoller and written by Jason Segel and Stoller himself. The story tells the tale of two people (Segel and Emily Blunt) who fall in love and then proceed to work through a five-year engagement. Weedman jumps on the big screen to play a hard-nosed head chef at the restaurant at which Segel works.

East meets West

China remains one of Hollywood's targets as a land of far eastern promise for business while state-control and access to the emerging market continues to frustrate US efforts to get a piece of the action. But the Chinese industry is far from shy in recruiting help to forge partnerships that benefit it. So it sent chins wagging stateside when it emerged that the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Hollywood executive Sid Ganis had been recruited by China's production facility Wuxi Studio as its honorary chairperson for development and promotion. Wuxi Studio is regarded as China's most ambition film facility and bringing Ganis on board sends a message out to the world that the country is interested in movie relationships. Wuxi, a city of 4.5 million 45 minutes northwest of Shanghai by bullet train, will play host to China's first designated digital film industrial park when it opens by year end. "Hollywood's always looking for another place to accommodate its productions and save costs, from nice hotels to nice sound stages and new and different locations," Ganis said.