Ostroff rooted in ‘Tree’ deal

A deal for Richard Friedenberg to script “The Education of Little Tree” is among the key new developments for the Daniel Ostroff Agency.

The 5-year-old, one-man show has quietly gone about the business of selling the services of its 15 clients, including screenwriter Michael Blake (“Dances With Wolves”) and director Jim McBride (“The Big Easy”).

Included on the 39-year-old Ostroff’s list are plans for Friedenberg (“A River Runs Through It”) to write “Little Tree” for producers Jake Eberts and Roland Joffe and to write and direct “Jonathan Takes Enemy” for producer Jeff Wald and Columbia Pictures. Several top Hollywood writers were vying for the “Little Tree” assignment.

In addition, Warner Bros. veepee of production Tom Lassally has signed Ostroff client Ken Kaufman to write a live-action Bugs Bunny feature titled “What’s Up Bugs?” and NBC has bought Rob Hedden’s two-hour “Ironside” with Raymond Burr.

Screenplay Oscar winner Blake is in discussions with Dennis Hopper to direct his western “Slade.”

Thom Eberhardt, who directed “Captain Ron” and wrote “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid,” is attached to direct Rex McGee’s “Untying the Knot,” which will be produced by Bob Simonds. The project is being set up as an indie production.

In an unusual deal, Eberhardt is readying an episode of the CBS series “Space Rangers,” which he directed under the aegis of producers Trilogy Entertainment.

Ostroff’s screenwriter clients Dave Fuller and Rick Natkin (“Necessary Roughness”) are working with Paramount Pictures executive Don Granger on “Riptide Cay,” which is based on the motto “squealing tires, busting glass, never let a stuntman go hungry.”

Beyond “Ironside,” client Hedden is directing a sweeps episode of “The Commish” and is writer/executive producer with Michelle Brustin on Fox Broadcasting’s one-hour pilot “Guinea Pigs.”

Stu Krieger is supervising producer of the ABC series “Jack’s Place,” starring Hal Linden. On the movie side, Krieger has partnered with Goldie Hawn and Anthea Sylbert on tentatively titled romantic comedy “A Man’s Job,” which appears headed for distribution by Savoy Pictures.

Jim McBride is directing the John Lithgow/Kevin Anderson/Rosanna Arquette starrer “The Wrong Man” for Showtime. He’s also slated to direct Outlaw Prods.’ “Meet Your Match” written by Steve Brill (“Mighty Ducks”) and “History is Made at Night”–to be produced by Stephen Woolley, Mark Lipson and Kerry Boyle. The latter pic is a post-glasnost romance between two former spies.

The writing team of Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott have completed the Interscope project “Runaway Bride” and Largo’s “Miss California,” skedded to be Jonathan Lynn’s first movie after “The Distinguished Gentleman.”

McGibbon and Parriot have been assigned to write “Still Water” for Longview Entertainment. To be produced by Alain Bernheim (“Coming to America”) and Rosalie Swedlin, “Still Water” is a romance set in Montana.

McGibbon and Parriott have also been retained as writers and exec producers on the Fox sitcom “Amazing Grace.” The Dyan Cannon-starrer shapes up as a 1993 production with Lilah McCarthy as executive producer.

“Rough Justice” is Ostroff client David O’Malley’s latest sale. The comedy about an action hero is in development with Richard and Lili Zanuck at MGM.

At a time when few are buying literary properties, Ostroff clients are. “Single White Female” executive producer Jack Baron has scooped up rights to Cynthia Voight’s “Homecoming.”

Veteran screenwriter John Kaye (“American Hot Wax”) has purchased the rights to novelist Robin Beeman’s “A Parallel Life,” which is described by Kaye as the “Carnal Knowledge” of the 1990s.

Ostroff client and producer Agi Orsi has acquired the rights to Pam Houston’s collection of short stories “Cowboys Are My Weakness.” The producer is talking to prospective television production companies.

While the productivity is heady, Ostroff said the quality of his clients is the key.

“Years ago, I read a profile in the New York Times about the world’s greatest piano salesman,” Ostroff said. “He worked long hours, played the piano, kept voluminous files … and knew everyone in the music business. … I realized the key thing was left out: Yes, he did all of those things but he also sold Steinways. Like him, I sell Steinways.”

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