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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jackie Chan circles 'Karate Kid' remake

Harald Zwart brought in to direct Columbia pic

By Steven Zeitchik and Borys Kit

Jackie Chan soon could be mentoring a karate kid.

The martial arts star is in negotiations to star in Columbia's remake of "The Karate Kid." He would take on the role of mentor Mr. Miyagi, made famous by Pat Morita in the original franchise.

The studio also has signed Harald Zwart to helm the picture, which possibly will begin shooting this year in Beijing.

Jaden Smith is set to star as the boy to be mentored by Chan's character. Like the original, which starred Morita and Ralph Macchio, the movie will examine the relationship between a martial arts expert and a boy who is picked on by bullies.

Will Smith, James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz's Overbrook Entertainment is producing along with the original film's producer Jerry Weintraub. The setting will be relocated from the U.S. to China. Chris Murphy has been attached to pen the screenplay.

The WMA-repped Chan, who next appears in Relativity's action-comedy "The Spy Next Door," has broad appeal overseas, which undoubtedly appealed to Columbia. His "Rush Hour" franchise has earned about $750 million worldwide.

The ICM-repped Zwart directed the tween hit "Agent Cody Banks" and Columbia's upcoming "The Pink Panther 2."