Ghosts of Vesuvius: According to Variety, 20th Century Fox and Cameron's Fox-based Lightstorm Entertainment have optioned screen rights to Ghosts of Vesuvius, an upcoming HarperCollins book by Charles Pellegrino about the volcanic eruption that leveled Pompeii in 79 A.D.

James Cameron will produce "Vesuvius" with his Lightstorm cohorts Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini. Helmer will wait before deciding whether he will direct the fictional look at Pompeii and its destruction that will be culled from Pelligrino's nonfiction book.

Pellegrino is a scientist-author who became acquainted with Cameron through two books he wrote about the Titanic; helmer wrote the introduction to one of them, "Ghosts of the Titanic."

The stories of the iceberg collision that doomed the Titanic in 1912 and the volcano eruption that killed so many in antiquity share an air of archaeological and scientific intrigue.

The volcano was estimated to have unleashed a lethal blast several times more powerful than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima.

Just as Cameron was able to verify how the Titanic broke apart by taking deep-sea trips to film its damaged hull, there are equally compelling relics that bear witness to the ancient volcanic tragedy, such as facial molds made from corpses found encased in ash cocoons.

The Lightstorm trio will sift through the book to create a fictionalized account, which likely will tie into the politics of Rome, an empire whose demise may have been hastened by the devastation of Vesuvius.

The film is expected to shoot later this year or early next year, and will be his first dramatic feature since Titanic.

Brian B.