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'Road' gets heavy backing

Big names and even bigger money are lining up behind the movie version of Cormac McCarthy's critically acclaimed book "The Road." Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, the local couple producing the film, report that 2929 Productions, whose principals include billionaire Mark Cuban, is financing the film, which could begin shooting this winter. The Schwartzes, who own the Waltham-based PR firm Schwartz Communications, also confirmed that Viggo Mortensen is in negotiations to star. McCarthy's 2006 best-seller centers on a father who walks with his son through a desolate postwar American landscape in search of civilization. Aussie filmmaker John Hillcoat is set to direct, and Steve Schwartz said Joe Penhall has delivered a terrific script. "It's as good as the book, and that's saying a lot," said Schwartz, adding that the Weinstein brothers' Dimension Films is in final negotiations to distribute the apocalyptic thriller in North America. "All of the players understand that we're stewards of a masterpiece," Schwartz told us. "We're taking this very seriously."

Big digs for big Celts star
A big player needs a big crash pad. Ten-time NBA All-Star and new Celtics stud Kevin Garnett is moving with wife Brandi into a three-bedroom perch in the Residences at the InterContinental Boston that has sweeping views of the waterfront. Garnett landed in Boston over the summer in a blockbuster deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves that sent Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, and a few draft picks to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Full plate for Garner
Jennifer Garner's dance card is filling up. Ben Affleck's better half is in negotiations to join Matthew McConaughey in the romantic comedy "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past." And word in the blogosphere is that the former "Alias" star is in talks to be part of J.J. Abrams's upcoming "Star Trek XI" movie as a love interest for the young Spock, who will be played by "Heroes" star Zachary Quinto. "Anything J.J. asked me to do ever, that's a clear 'Don't even worry, the answer's yes,' " Garner told reporters. Garner's been on the road promoting Peter Berg's "The Kingdom," which also stars Chris Cooper and Jamie Foxx, and was at the Toronto International Film Festival for her other film, "Juno." If that's not enough, Garner is soon slated to join Kevin Kline in New York for rehearsals for her Broadway debut in a revival of "Cyrano de Bergerac," which opens Nov. 1.

Paris on the Charles
For those who questioned whether Boston could actually be a suitable substitute for Paris, "Pink Panther 2" director Harald Zwart says the answer is oui. But he had his doubts. "When it was first discussed for us to come here, I said 'Boston?' with a big question mark," the Norwegian-born filmmaker told us yesterday between scenes in Copley Square. "But Boston does have a European style. We were able to find so many marble staircases and enough older buildings that we could shoot more scenes here." Zwart said they shot for only three weeks in Paris before moving the rest of the production to Boston. Steve Martin, Andy Garcia, Jean Reno, and Emily Mortimer are expected to be in town through the beginning of November. After filming on the plaza yesterday morning, the crew moved inside the Boston Public Library, where the Abbey Room doubled for the Pope's bedroom at the Vatican. "Yes, we're going into the uttermost sacred area," Zwart said with a laugh. "But nobody's ever seen it, so we'll be guessing, and no one will know if we got it wrong."

CBS exec joins BC's VIPs
Boston College's Chief Executives' Club is known for attracting a crowd of heavy hitters, and today's luncheon with CBS honcho Les Moonves (inset) keeps up that tradition. Expected at the Boston Harbor Hotel gathering are Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Tom Menino, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, state Treasurer Tim Cahill, former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey, "The Unmistakable Touch of Grace" author Cheryl Richardson, music promoter Don Law, state Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, and new Boston Federal Reserve Bank chairman Eric Rosengren. Wonder whether anyone will ask Moonves about Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit against CBS.

JFK assassination series
Vincent Bugliosi's "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy" will be turned into a 10-part miniseries by Tom Hanks's production company, "Big Love" star Bill Paxton, and HBO, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In his bestseller, Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and co-wrote "Helter Skelter," disclaims conspiracy theories and contends that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole person behind the 1963 assassination.

‘Merry’ time with Maria
Maria Menounos knows how to do media. A correspondent for both "Today" and "Access Hollywood," the Medford native is uncommonly comfortable in front of a camera, as she demonstrated yesterday during a junket for "In the Land of Merry Misfits." The movie, which screened last night at the Boston Film Festival, is a bizarre fairy tale worthy of John Waters. Menounos is the executive producer, and longtime friend and confidante Keven Undergaro wrote and directed the indie, which took 10 years to make. "Maria started as a [production assistant] when she was a teen, and she ended up being the producer," said Undergaro, who also grew up in Medford. "She's got a crazy Greek-immigrant work ethic. You put that together with her looks and IQ, and you have, like, another Oprah." Happy to be home with friends and family, Menounos last night hosted a pre-party at 33 Restaurant & Lounge and an after-party at the Mediterranean-theme Vlora in Copley Square. "So many people worked on this kooky little movie of ours," she said, "we just wanted to celebrate."

Celebrating Ivan's new gig
It was a Big Apple reunion for the North Shore Music Theatre's production of "Nine" to mark the appointment of Barry Ivan as the theater's artistic director and executive producer. New York publicist Lynn Goldberg opened her home the other night to toast Ivan's new gig, and among those there were two actors Ivan directed in "Nine" during its 2004 run: "Guiding Light" stalwart Robert Newman and Milena Govich, star of "K-Ville" and formerly of "Law & Order."

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