O’Brien gets in on the ‘Action’

Austin O’Brien (“The Lawnmower Man”) has been cast opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Last Action Hero,” Columbia Pictures announced yesterday.

Full casting of director John McTiernan’s picture includes Charles Dance, Anthony Quinn, Mercedes Ruehl, F. Murray Abraham, Robert Prosky, Tom Noonan, Frank McRae and Art Carney.

Columbia said the pic, to be released June 18, will be shot on L.A. and Gotham locations and on the stages of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Culver City lot.

“Last Action Hero” shapes up as Columbia chairman Mark Canton’s biggest movie to date. The story follows a young boy (O’Brien) who is blasted into the movies by a magical ticket. Colpix president of production Michael Nathanson announced yesterday’s production start.

As reported (Daily Variety, July 30), “Last Action Hero” emerged as low-budget screenplay acquisition to a go picture over six months, drawing on several key relationships to get the movie made.

Originally written by Zak Penn and Adam Leff, the screenplay was brought to the studio by Steve Roth Prods. exec VP Michael Cieply. Roth (“Gladiator, “”Mobsters””Dead Bang”) and McTiernan will produce the pic.

In honing the project, Colpix exec veep of production Barry Josephson tapped “Lethal Weapon” screenwriter Shane Black to supervise “Last Action” rewrites. Black brought in David Arnott as the fourth writer on the screenplay.

Slated as co-producers of “Last Action Hero” are Robert E. Relyea and Neal Nordlinger. Relyea was formerly senior veepee of motion picture production management for Paramount Pictures, while Nordlinger’s credits include “Fortress, “”Shattered” and “Under the Boardwalk.”

McTiernan’s behind-the-scenes team includes “Dances With Wolves” director of photography Dean Semler, “Soapdish” production designer Eugenio Zanetti, “Kindergarten Cop” costume designer Gloria Gresham and editors Richard Harris (“Terminator 2”) and John Wright (“The Hunt for Red October”).

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