The Crowded Room: According to Variety, Joel Schumacher will direct The Crowded Room, a true story of a man with 24 separate personalities based on the book "The Minds of Billy Milligan."

The film has been through about as many permutations, with Schumacher nearly making it twice with Brad Pitt and once with Billy Crudup while the project was at New Regency.

It has been rescued from development hell by producer Alexandra Milchan, who worked on the project for a decade as a New Regency exec. She persuaded her father, Arnon Milchan, to let her take it independent, and she said that CAA is well along in the process of sealing enough territories to cover a budget just under $20 million.

Milchan and Schumacher have started the casting process to find a young actor to play a role. Shooting will begin in February.

"While I was at New Regency, we had so many talent combinations, but I don't think anybody really wanted to make it, outside of my father," Milchan said. "I convinced him that it was crazy to try to make this as a New Regency film, because the budget would be dangerously too high, and studios just don't have the time to promote these kinds of films. Joel always loved the project, and when things didn't work out with Todd Field, Joel pushed two movies to do this one."

"In The Bedroom" helmer Field was just the latest in a long line of talent attached to the film. James Cameron first optioned it in 1998 to direct John Cusack in the lead role. Schumacher took his three tries. David Fincher tried with Pitt; Steven Soderbergh with Sean Penn; Danny DeVito with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Nick Cassavetes, F. Gary Gray, Gus Van Sant, Matthew McConaughey and Johnny Depp were also in the mix at one time or another. Todd Graff has written drafts for everybody.

At 21, Milligan was arrested and charged with rape, and doctors discovered he had manifested a room full of distinct personalities that ranged from a young female child to a Serb-Croatian immigrant. His illness was attributed to a childhood full of violence and sexual abuse at the hands of his stepfather.

Brian B.