Last week it was widely reported that after providing a successful rewrite of the Spider-Man 4 script, Gary Ross had been approached by Columbia Pictures to rewrite the screenplay for the spin-off film, Venom, and to direct it himself. This was noteworthy for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the fact that Ross' writing-and-directing résumé, which includes Pleasantville and Seabiscuit, wouldn't suggest he was the guy for a comic-based summer blockbuster about an alien symbiote that turns people evil.

But now The Playlist says that, according to an unnamed but well-placed source, whatever Ross is doing with Venom will have to wait -- first he's going to direct a Matt Helm movie. The source says it's supposed to go into production next summer, which would push the shooting of Venom into 2011 at the earliest.

Matt Helm, a badass spy character created by Donald Hamilton, appeared in 27 novels between 1960 and 1993. Dean Martin played Helm in four movies in the 1960s, but they were campy rather than hard-edged. There was a short-lived TV series in 1975, too. As recently as this summer, Steven Spielberg was considering making a new Helm film, before deciding to make Harvey instead.
That brings us to Ross, who reportedly will rewrite the script already drafted by Paul Attanasio (Donnie Brasco, Quiz Show). Hot-ticket producers Alex Kurtzman and Robero Orci (Star Trek, Transformers) are onboard, too. The Playlist says Bradley Cooper might play the title role.

Any Matt Helm fans in the house who can react to all this news? Can Gary Ross pull off a high-octane spy thriller? How will it stack up to the inevitable comparisons to the Jason Bourne series?