Simpson & Bruckheimer seek a boost from CAA

DON & JERRY & MIKEY OVITZ: Move over, Credit Lyonnais, and make room for producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer! After never having had agents before, the producing duo just signed on with powerhouse Creative Artists Agency to help them get rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’.

Caught in the clutches of development hell since signing their deal with Disney two years ago, D&J will look to CAA to help them with their movie deals and, as one source suggests, “let Hollywood know they’re back in business.”

CAA’s Robert Bookman, who along with Jack Rapke is representing the guys, said yesterday the agency’s main objective is “to help them energize their Disney deal … to help them get projects greenlighted, get them involved with writers they haven’t worked with, inundate them with quality material and give them our own input on how to develop and acquire different projects.”

Historically, CAA hasn’t represented a lot of producers — or, as Bookman puts it, signs “only special ones.” Among its other producing-team clients are Avnet/Kerner and Lobell/Bergman and, when they were a filmmaking couple, Sherry Lansing and Stanley Jaffe.

Simpson said he and his partner have been in “informal conversations” with CAA for the past 2 1/2 years and felt now was the time to sign up. Not only do they have their own projects to worry about, but they also plan to supervise projects for young filmmakers such as director Ted Demme’s “The Ref,” a Hollywood Pix summer shoot to star Dennis Leary.

“It’s really a function of Jerry and meMDBO expanding our business,” said Simpson. As for their own projects, he said, “We’re expecting to get 12 scripts in over the next eight weeks.”

While MDBOthe producers are trying to get movies up and running at Hollywood, they’re also recasting “Bad Boys,” which was originally suppose to star Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz, and will try to set up the project at another studio.

Hollywood informed the producers it was no longer interested in making the movie sans the Carvey-Lovitz combo, telling D&J they were free to take it elsewhere.

Simpson, who acknowledged that he and Bruckheimer will take advice from CAA on this one, said the plan is to “fully package” the movie and “go out to the other studios in about a month.” He said director Michael Bay is still attached, but he refused to divulge the “major player of some consequence” whom he and Bruckheimer are trying to nab to replace Carvey.

VERHOEVEN HAS INSTINCT FOR “MISTRESS”: Columbia Pix is in final negotiations with Paul Verhoeven to direct “Mistress of the Seas,” a movie version of John Carlova’s non-fiction book about female pirates Anne Bonnie and Mary Reed, scriptedMDBO by Michael CristoferMDBO.

The movie, which will be produced by Jon Peters’ Columbia-based Peters Entertainment, would mark Verhoeven’s first studio-financed film, so sources say there’s some haggling with Columbia over creative control. The fiercely independent “Basic Instinct” director wants assurances of complete autonomy from Columbia.

Colpix topper Mark Canton confirmed that the studio is in conversations with Verhoeven, someone he said the studio “has wanted to work with for a long time.” He disputed speculation that creative control was an issue, though he did acknowledge that “he’s never made a studio picture before, so (negotiating) is a different process and we want to make sure we’re in sync.”

Canton said Verhoeven is “definitely the guy we’d like to have, and I think we’re on the same track.”

The goal is to start shooting the picture “sooner than later,” Canton said, meaning before the end of the year.

Verhoeven’s agent, Marion Rosenberg, would only confirm that her client is “still considering it,” but Canton feels sure a deal is imminent.

Rosenberg also confirmed that Paramount is making a development deal with Verhoeven on a remake of “Riders of the Purple Sage,” based on Zane Grey’s classic Western novel. Michael Kozoll (“First Blood”) is adapting Grey’s story, which was first filmed in 1918 and again in 1931. Tom Mix starred in director Lynn Reynolds’ MDBO1925 version (as well as the sequel, “The Rainbow Trail”) as a Texas ranger seeking the scoundrel who abducted his sister.

SILVER MEETS WITH HUANG: Producer Joel Silver met last Thursday with George Huang, who used to work as Barry Josephson’s assistant when both were at Silver Pix, to discuss helping him get his first project off the ground. As reported, Huang’s script “To Protect and Serve” is about an assistant taking revenge on his studio boss from hell (Daily Variety, March 23).

Silver apparently told Huang he had “personal reasons” for wanting to see his movie made and frankly would be thrilled to see a movie that wasn’t based on yet another hyper, bearded movie mogul like himself. Supposedly, his true motivation for taking the meeting with the wannabe filmmaker was to get assurances that the lead character would bear no resemblance whatsoever to himself.

Silver is sick of seeing his “type” portrayed over and over again in such flicks as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,””Grand Canyon” and reportedly the upcoming James L. Brooks musical “I’ll Do Anything” and Tony Scott’s “True Romance.”

Exex at the Silver Pix bungalow, trying to convince the producer that “Protect and Serve” is a great movie idea, reportedly made some casting suggestions for the lead character of Buddy, a composite of various Hollywood types that Huang has said is only about 20% based on Josephson. The proposed actors, including Tim Roth and Crispin Glover, are both closer to Josephson’s physical type than that of the bald and paunchy character described in Huang’s script.

Huang, who also served as Josephson’s assistant at Columbia, is reportedly under a gag order not to talk to the press about last week’s meeting. He did not return repeated calls yesterday.

Silver’s only comment: “George came to me, pitched me the project and asked me if I would help him put this movie together. I said since he had worked with me, I would try and help him — that was it.”

Supposedly, the producer advised Huang to come up with storyboards and a budget. Huang reportedly told Silver he ideally would like to make the movie, which he wants to direct, for $ 1 million rather than his originally projected $ 30,000.

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