June 11, 2002 08:45 AM

Traditionally it was only Elmer Fudd who was permitted to costar with Warner Bros. leading man Bugs Bunny. (Warner Bros., like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner.) But now it’s Brendan Fraser’s turn, reports the movie industry’s two trade journals, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. Fraser, 33, whose biggest hits have been “The Mummy” and its sequel, has been tapped to star alongside the wily wabbit as well as Daffy Duck, Pepe LePew and the other Merrie Melody headliners in the upcoming “Looney Tunes: Back in Action,” to be directed by Joe Dante (“Gremlins”). In the combined live-action and animated comedy, Fraser will play a fellow who encounters Bugs and company in Hollywood, Las Vegas and Africa while searching for his missing father and an ancient blue diamond. The production, scheduled to begin shooting July 29 in anticipation of a November 2003 release, marks the first feature film appearance of Bugs Bunny, age unreported, since 1996’s “Space Jam” with basketball star Michael Jordan. In addition to the feature film, reports the Associated Press, several new Looney Tunes cartoon shorts are being created to play in theaters, according to Lorenzo di Bonaventura, president of worldwide production for Warner Bros. The studio entered the animation field in 1930, developing characters to compete with Walt Disney’s Midwestern rodent Mickey Mouse, who was always more popular but never as clever as the Brooklyn-born Bugs. And th-th-that’s all, folks!

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