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In the Works: Del Toro’s ‘Nutshell Studies’ at HBO, ‘Arbitrage’ Director Jarecki’s Next, and Gong Li as the ‘Last Empress’

In the Works: Del Toro's 'Nutshell Studies' at HBO, 'Arbitrage' Director Jarecki's Next, and Gong Li as the 'Last Empress'

HBO has optioned the rights to Corinne May Botz’ 2004 book “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” for Sara Gran to  adapt and exec produce with Guillermo del Toro, who will direct. Yes, Del Toro is prepping the epic monsters vs. robots “Pacific Rim” for release next July, in addition to developing a live-action Hulk series at ABC. For her part Gran is busy writing TNT’s “Southland” and has a series of detective novels, “Claire Dewitt,” set to be adapted by Warner Horizon.

-“Arbitrage” writer-director Nicholas Jarecki is already looking ahead, as the film is scoring in a limited release and on VOD. In an interview with ThePlaylist, Jarecki says his sophomore feature (which he’s taking his time writing) will owe some debts to “Chinatown” and “The Conversation.” He states: “It’s a detective story set in Los Angeles that deals with a young man who’s a surveillance expert, who gets involved in a conspiracy involving electric cars, and it’s got a romance story in it.” Sounds in line with “Arbitrage,” another semi-old school yarn, slick and clever. “Arbitrage” star Richard Gere talks about working with Jarecki in our interview here.

Chinese star Gong Li will play Empress Cixi in “The Last Empress,” a Seven Stars Film Studios Chia-US co-production based on Cixi’s life and her relationships with both Emperor Guang Xu and Imperial Advisor American Costa. Cixi is considered to have unofficially controlled China for some forty-seven years during the Manchu Qing Dynasty, and has been portrayed as responsible for its downfall. With no director currently attached and production slated for October 2013, this is still in early stages. But Gong, who starred in Zhang Yimou’s “Raise the Red Lantern,” Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine,” Wong Kar Wai’s “2046” and Rob Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha,” is worth getting excited over.

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