Friday, October 24, 2008

Paramount Believes In "Believe It Or Not"...

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Paramount is negotiating with director Chris Columbus to helm the biopic "Ripley’s Believe It or Not!", with actor Jim Carrey attached to star as the wildly eccentric newspaper comic strip cartoonist/explorer Robert Ripley.

The project is a Paramount priority, targeting a 2011 release with the potential of a franchise.

Columbus recently wrapped the Vancouver-lensed comic book-to-film "I Love You, Beth Cooper".

Travel was Ripley's lifelong obsession, having visited 198 countries, but feeling most at home in China, where he adopted local customs, often greeting guests in traditional Asian costume while presiding over elaborate feasts.

His many US houses were filled with 'odditorium' artifacts he brought back from his Marco Polo-like travels, including Chinese wallhangings, totem poles from Alaska and giant bronze guardian statues from the Orient.

A colleague once said of him, that "the most curious object in the collection is probably Mr. Ripley himself."

He became a self-made multi-millionaire through the syndication of his comic strip, dressing in bright colors and patterns, bat-wing ties and two-toned spat shoes, collecting cars but never learning to drive, and although he used complicated recording equipment for broadcasts, he was afraid to use a telephone for fear of being electrocuted.

A non-swimmer, he owned numerous boats including dug-out canoes and a Chinese sailing junk moored at B.I.O.N. Island, his estate in Mamaroneck, New York.

The 1930's and 40's were regarded as the 'Golden Age of Ripley', with "Believe It or Not!" becoming the catchphrase of the day and small towns across the US selling out halls and vaudeville theaters to hear his lectures and see his films.

Self-educated, he received honorary titles and degrees, but died of a heart attack in 1949, at the age of 56, shortly after the thirteenth telecast of his TV series...