I'm frankly surprised that Lasse Hallström hadn't tried his hand at a Nicholas Sparks adaptation before now. Sparks' middlebrow weepies (so far we've gotten Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember and The Notebook) are perfectly suited for Hallström's slick, crowd-pleaser style and his prestige-picture tastes. Hallström and the producers of the forthcoming Dear John have clearly realized this, as the director has signed on for the film, which starts shooting in December.

Dear John is like every Nicholas Sparks plot rolled into one, with a shamelessly sentimental treatment of 9/11 thrown in for good measure. It's about a rebellious kid (played by Channing Tatum in the film) who joins the army for lack of anything better to do, but falls in love with a family-oriented college student while on leave in North Carolina. He decides that after his tour of duty is over he'll settle down and start a family with his new love, but September 11th gums up their plans and he has to choose between love and country.

Hallström is currently wrapping up Hachiko: A Dog's Story, where Richard Gere plays a college professor who takes in an abandoned dog. And Sparks is responsible for this fall's Nights in Rodanthe, starring Gere and Diane Lane, about a love affair between an unhappily married woman and a doctor trying to reconcile with his estranged son. I think I just swooned a little bit.