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    Big Willie Builds Empire, Chops Karate Rumors

    Will Smith's to-do list includes some Empire building, but he definitely won't be Karate Kidding around.

    The Men in Black star will make like Rupert Murdoch in the drama Empire, about the inner-workings of a global media conglomerate. The project reteams him with director Michael Mann, who guided Smith to an Oscar nomination for 2001's Ali.

    The actor's publicist, Heidi Schaeffer, confirmed the deal but divulged little in the way of details about the movie, which Columbia Pictures acquired as a pitch for seven figures.

    Veteran scribe John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai) will handle screenwriting chores. He collaborated with Mann once before on the script for The Aviator. (Mann ultimately passed on directing the film and instead served as an executive producer on the Martin Scorsese-helmed endeavor.)

    Mann's Forward Pass shingle will coproduce Empire with Smith and partner James Lassiter's Overbrook Entertainment.

    The threesome is currently supervising work on Hancock, a fantasy drama directed by Peter Berg (The Kingdom) in which Smith plays an unpopular, down-on-his-luck superhero.

    Smith is also developing a sitcom based on his 2005 romantic comedy Hitch, about a lovelorn professional date doctor. He would serve as an executive producer but wouldn't star in the project, which he hopes to shop to TV networks for next season.

    Big Willie appears next in the sci-fi horror flick, I Am Legend, about a brilliant scientist who believes he's the last man on Earth after a deadly virus wipes out civilization. The film is set for a Dec. 14 release.

    After Hancock, Smith will reportedly segue to Seven Pounds, playing a man who falls in love with a woman while trying to commit suicide. He'll follow that with Time Share, where he'll face off against Nicolas Cage in the comedy about two families who have booked the same vacation condo.

    But one movie Smith will not be doing is a remake of 1984's The Karate Kid.

    Internet rumors have abounded that the actor was planning on directing son Jayden in the Ralph Macchio role, with Jackie Chan playing Mr. Miyagi.

    "He's certainly not," Shaeffer tells E! Online."I don't know where that came from."

     

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