Culkin’s dad sacks Mark

Laurence Mark, the original producer of 20th Century Fox’s now-lensing $ 28 million-plus movie “The Good Son,” has been quietly booted off the production by Kit Culkin, father and manager of the film’s star, Macaulay Culkin.

According to knowledgeable sources, Culkin reportedly demanded Mark’s removal from the project before the pic’s Nov. 19 start date because of his former association with the movie’s original director, Michael Lehmann.

A year ago, when the on-again, off-again movie was set to go at Fox, Lehmann was very vocal about his preference for another actor other than Culkin to play the role of the bad seed in “Good Son.” He had met with the young actor and decided he was not right for the role, as the part was written for an older preteen.

Given the megasuccess of “Home Alone” and negotiations under way for the sequel, Fox clearly wanted Culkin and didn’t want to upset his father.

To accommodate the young actor’s schedule to lense “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” last November, the studio pushed back the start of “Good Son” until this year to wait for him.

At the time it was postponed, nearly $ 4 million in preproduction costs already had been outlaid for “Good Son,” for which sets had been constructed in New England and a full location crew hired.

A cloud of controversy and negative publicity surrounded the project then, from which sources say the older Culkin now wants to distance himself. With Lehmann long gone and Mark disassociated, insiders suggested that Culkin could start the production with a clean slate.

Fox sources acknowledged that the studio was embarrassed by Culkin’s order to dump Mark and thus was very gracious and generous insofar as compensating the indie producer above and beyond his normal fee.

The removal of Mark is another recent move by the actor’s father to flex his muscles in Hollywood in the name of his son’s superstar status. There were reports last year that Kit Culkin had used the then-unsigned “Home Alone 2” contract as leverage to get his son the “Good Son” role.

Most recently, the older Culkin pressured Fox and “Good Son” director Joseph Rubin to hire his 8-year-old daughter Quinn to play Macaulay’s younger sister in the film, which they did.

Kit Culkin’s representatives, including ICM agent Sam Cohn, did not return calls yesterday.

A high-ranking Fox official refused comment and production prexy Tom Jacobson did not return calls. Neither Rubin nor the film’s other credited producer, Mary Anne Page, could be reached on location yesterday in Gloucester, Mass.

Mark, whose indie production company is based at Disney’s Hollywood Pictures, also declined to comment when contacted yesterday about his removal from the project.

Mark has been associated with “Good Son” since he was an indie producer based at Fox in 1985, when he first approached screenwriter Ian McEwan with the movie idea and then subsequently developed it through several drafts with the writer.

The movie had a lot of false starts, moving from Fox to Bob Pittman’s indie company Quantum Pictures at Universal in the late 1980s with Brian Gilbert attached to direct. Universal, which had poured money into a rewrite, scouting and casting, subsequently dropped the ball and Hoyts picked up about two-thirds of the preproduction costs, sources recount.

Gilbert bowed out and the project briefly landed at Hemdale with Brit Stuart Orme attached to direct. Hemdale then lost interest and the project was shopped all over town and eventually landed back at Fox.

While Ruben and Page are the credited producers on “Good Son,” which is being executive produced by Daniel Rogosin and Ezra Swerdlow, a source close to the production said thedoor may still be open for Mark to receive a screen credit at the end of the day.

“Good Son” is expected to wrap in mid to late February for release by Fox in September or October ’93.

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