The Green Hornet: According to Variety, Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein has set his resident comicbook maven, Kevin Smith, to write and direct the comic adaptation, The Green Hornet.

Smith expects to have a script ready in time to begin shooting scenes of the masked Hornet and his kung-fu-fighting chauffeur, Kato, by late summer.

Protag Britt Reid, millionaire publisher of the Daily Sentinel, who moonlights as a masked crime fighter, has had several incarnations, including the live-action TV series that starred Van Williams but is best remembered for introducing Bruce Lee to U.S. auds in 1966.

"I dig the fact that he kicked off a run of billionaire playboys who decided to put on a mask and fight crime, and that he was Batman before there was a Batman," said Smith, whose View Askew banner is based at Miramax and who has directed four of his five features there.

Smith vowed never expected to direct a film about a comicbook character. He made an exception for the Green Hornet, for several reasons. Among them is the fact that the character has high name recognition but isn't shackled by the storyline: Most people remember the title character and Kato, but cannot name their adversaries or even recall the tricked-out car they drove.

Smith hasn't gotten to the casting stage yet, but said he was intrigued by both actors who were linked to the pic while it was at U. George ClooneyGeorge Clooney had a pay-or-play deal for the title character before Steven SpielbergSteven Spielberg extricated him to star in DreamWorks' first drama, "The Peacemaker." Jet Li once was linked to the role of Kato.

Kevin Smith's next film, Jersey Girl, opens in March.