PHILADELPHIA native

Lee Daniels

has just returned from Cannes, where his "Precious," due for a November release, received good reviews and a standing ovation.

"Precious," about a heavyset woman and her tough life in Harlem, has won raves in the Hollywood trade papers, and will be released closer to awards season. It stars Mo'Nique.

But Daniels doesn't want to talk about it because "Tennessee" (review on Page 41), which he produced, opens today in Philadelphia as it makes its way around the art-house circuit.

It features Mariah Carey as a waitress and would-be singer who helps two troubled brothers make it from Texas to Tennessee. Carey also has a small role in "Precious" and is now one of Daniels' good friends.

The fruitful Daniels-Carey collaboration has its roots in the city, where the two met while Daniels was filming "Shadowboxer." "It was a mutual thing," Daniels told Daily News film critic Gary Thompson.

"She'd heard of my work. I like her a lot. We have friends in common. We were working late - it was like 3 a.m. when she showed up, because she works nights - and she was almost like a cheerleader for the film."

The meeting yielded no working commitment, but she wanted to work in film, and Daniels kept her in mind. When he went to cast "Tennessee," his first choice was Janet Jackson. She agreed to do the part, and was adding weight that the role requires, but quit when she decided to tour and take the weight off again.

That's when he contacted Carey, who took the role under conditions set by Daniels.

Conditions such as no entourage.

"I said, 'Listen, Mariah, here's the thing. I can't have all this around me. It will interfere with the atmosphere we're trying to create. You'll really have to lose that posse.

'It will set a tone for the crew, it will be better for morale, and it will set a tone for your character,' " he said.

Carey was game.

"She's a trooper . . . I think it's her best work on film."

Tattle film production slate

The Hollywood Reporter says French film legend Jean-Luc

Godard, 78, is working on "Le

socialisme," a political story that could be ready this year.

He's also thinking about directing "The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million," a first-person Holocaust tome from New York Times writer Daniel Mendelsohn.

* Also from the Hollywood Reporter:

The 1983 comedy "Valley Girl," which, like, you know, starred Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman may, like, you know, be remade as, you know, a musical.

"Shrek: The Musical" 's Jason Moore will direct.

It's part of MGM's strategy to repackage last generation's movies for this generation now that the Internet, DVDs and countless movie channels have made it impossible to see the originals. A new "Fame" opens Sept. 25. "Red Dawn," "RoboCop," "Poltergeist" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" are also in development.

Thanks to CGI, "Red Dawn" now will be even redder.

Jack Nicholson may return to

the screen for his pal James L. Brooks ("Terms of Endearment," "As Good as It Gets") in Brooks' softball-based rom-com starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson.

Director Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight," "Thirteen") is attached to direct an updated version of "Hamlet," to star Emile Hirsch, who helped develop the idea.

Although Shakespeare thought of it first.

Ron Nyswaner ("Philadelphia") will re-write the script - because the first one kind of stunk - which will be based in present-day America.

(Maybe the Wayans family could spoof "Hamlet" and call it "Dane Flick.")

Producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen ("Milk") said their "goal is to present the story as a suspense thriller. We want to make it exciting and accessible for an audience today."

Uh, "Hamlet" is accessible for an audience today. And it already is a suspense thriller.

Speaking of making old-timey stories accessible, A-list screenwriter Jeff Nathanson will adapt and direct William Kalush and Larry Sloman's Harry Houdini biography "The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero."

Hoping to launch a franchise, the movie plans to turn the famed magician/escape artist/spiritual debunker's life into an action-adventure.

Ooh, maybe he'll fly or become invisible.

Busy Brian Grazer ("Angels & Demons") will be a producer of "Stretch Armstrong," another Hollywood attempt to create a three-dimensional character out of a plastic toy action figure.

Universal has slotted "Armstrong" for release April 15, 2011, making it the first movie to be given the green light under the studio and toy company's six-year partnership.

Can't wait to see what they come up with for the Baby Alive Go Bye-Bye doll.

Tattbits

* Whitney Houston's come-

back will commence Sept. 1 with the release of her first new album in seven years.

* Jay-Z tops The Source's "Power 30" list because he's an industry leader and a top businessman. Others on the list include Diddy, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, will.i.am, Snoop Dogg, T-Pain and Kimora Lee Simmons.

President Obama got top billing on the honorary power list because of his influence on the hip-hop generation.

* It's basically impossible to be a

bigger tool than Spencer Pratt, but as word of a separation between Jon and Kate is filtering down from the gossip gods, Jon Gosselin commented to E! News: "It's a private matter. We'll handle it privately."

Note to Jon: The genie is out of the bottle. *

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

Send e-mail to gensleh@phillynews.com