Aeon Flux, Female James Bond

With the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the anticipated big June box office for Tomb Raider, action heroines are making a notable impression on Hollywood. So much so that Paramount Pictures — which is also the studio behind the Tomb Raider movie — wants to get another female ass-kicker to the big screen as soon as possible. However, instead of a videogame, the plan is to develop a live-action version of the former MTV Liquid Television staple, Aeon Flux.

Paramount, which often does crossover projects with MTV Networks (most notably the Beavis & Butthead movie and the Reese Witherspoon outing Election), has owned the rights to the material for about a year now. Our studio insider tells us that uncredited Wing Commander scribe Mike Finch wrote an early draft, but the studio has tossed that one in the trashcan. Instead, the bigwigs have decided to let Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi — who wrote the upcoming Kirsten Dunst movie At Seventeen — take a crack at it. We don’t understand the logic of assigning a movie based on Japanese-style anime to a pair of writers whose sole big-screen credit is a romantic drama, but we’ll give the studio the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

While Aeon Flux definitely has potential to shape up into a Matrix-like franchise, word is the studio only wants to spend about $30 million on the production. With such a small budget, in order to get grade-A special effects, the studio is going to have to rely on B-list actors. (Sorry, they won’t be able to afford Carrie-Anne Moss with that kind of scratch.) However, more disappointing than a tiny budget is the fact that series creator Peter Chung isn’t going to be involved in the production — except perhaps in a limited consulting capacity.

Don’t get too excited just yet. The studio’s current plan is to wait and see how Tomb Raider performs before going to the storyboard stage. The leggy mercenary still has a load of red tape to break through before this project gets the official greenlight.

Bond… Jane Bond

The New York Post has revived an old rumor about Catherine Zeta-Jones taking over the lead role in the 21st outing of the 007 franchise. A loyal mole at MGM, who has an inside track on the new James Bond flick, confirms the newspaper’s report, which claims the newlywed Mrs. Douglas has been in talks to appear in the next Bond outing, Beyond the Ice — which is slated to be Pierce Brosnan’s last walk in the secret agent’s shoes. However, as far as they know, she’s up for the role of the sexy Bond-girl. Additionally, our insider tells us there has been some initial talk about revamping the series, but if Zeta-Jones or any other actress becomes a British spy, it will be a separate entity independent of the James Bond franchise.