Screen talk: Money man

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The Independent Culture

The author Michael Lewis has not only written bestsellers, but now he has written his way well and truly on to Hollywood's go to radar after doing something movie-backers love.

He wrote the book Moneyball, which made $20m from its opening weekend as a film starring Brad Pitt. On the back of that, Lewis is tipped to take an active role in what may be the next film based on one of his books. Warner Bros has asked Lewis to pen a script based on Liar's Poker, his classic 1989 account of working as a bond trader at Salomon Brothers in the heady 1980s, which has been in development for a while. John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Crazy, Stupid, Love) have come on board to direct the film. Also in development is The Big Short, based on Lewis's 2010 book about the 2008 financial crisis. That is being developed at Paramount, with Moneyball star Brad Pitt and his Plan B company attached to produce.

Down on the farm

A movie about farming is the unlikely subject for a big screen job for Clancy Brown, the actor immortalised as Kurgan in 1986's Highlander. But farming it is with Brown signing up to star alongside Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron in a yet-to-be-titled Ramin Bahrani project that also counts Heather Graham (above centre) and Kim Dickens in the cast. The project, formerly titled "Heartland", details the story of a farmer and sales seedman (Quaid) trying to deal with his race car-driving son who refuses to plough his father's furrow.

Somewhere in time

Disney is ramping up plans to make Time Zones, a script billed as having a mind-bending concept. The studio has tasked Marc Guggenheim with the task of turning a story that combines a race against time with a race in time. Er, okay then. The story is set after an event that causes the world to spontaneously develop "time zones", but not like the ones that exist right now. The zones are fractures in space-time, which means on one side of the world it might be 2065 in New York, while on the other it is 300BC in China. Against this backdrop, one man realises that because time travel is now a matter of geography, he has the chance to change the past and save the life of his wife, but must team up with his estranged daughter to do so. Guggenheim is best known for his TV work – he was a writer-exec producer on FlashForward – and was a writer on The Green Lantern.

Tarantino recruits Kurt Russell

Quentin Tarantino (above right) continues to command actors' attention and instil a desire to work for him, especially those he has worked with previously. The fast-talking, dialogue-loving former video-shop clerk is lining up quite a cast for his latest, Django Unchained. But after Kevin Costner pulled out, Tarantino speedily replaced his acting chops with none other than Kurt Russell. The movie is set in the American South of the 1800s and follows a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) who partners with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) in order to find his wife. Russell joins to play a baddie in a film that already boasts an impressive bad-guy list, including Leonardo DiCaprio as a Francophile plantation owner who forces slaves to compete in death matches and Samuel L Jackson as a nasty head slave who works for DiCaprio. Russell plays a character called Ace, a man who oversees the plantation in a ruthless manner and who relishes punishing slaves. It is set to shoot in November this year.

Noah and the tale

Darren Aronofsky is attached to direct the big-screen version of the Biblical tale Noah. The screenwriter John Logan, whose credits include Gladiator and The Aviator, will re-write a script by Aronofsky and Ari Handel. Aronofsky believes in the project so much he will also help produce it.