Beatty, Bening having ‘Affair’ at WB

Off-screen partners Warren Beatty and Annette Bening are going to have an onscreen “Love Affair” for Warner Bros., and insiders confirmed it should be an affair to remember.

No director has been named but Beatty will produce Robert Towne’s script, a contemporary version of the 1939 RKO romantic comedy “Love Affair.” The original was a Leo McCarey production helmed by McCarey himself, who directed a remake of his own pic for 20th Century Fox in 1957 called “An Affair to Remember,” starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

Sources say script is ready to go but no start date has been set.

Both previous love stories began on ships (the remake on the U.S.S. Constitution), with two principals irresistibly attracted to one another despite their engagements to others. Both films have the wannabe lovers separate at the dock with a pact to meet six months later atop the Empire State building.

Tragedy befalls both Deborah Kerr’s and Irene Dunne’s femme character as she is injured in a traffic accident on the way to the meeting, and like Grant and Charles Boyer, Warren Beatty’s character will also likely believe he’s been stood up.

If Towne doesn’t change the tone of McCarey’s original happy ending, contemporary audiences will once again see a tale where true love can’t be denied, even in the face of physical tragedy.

Some insiders say Warner Bros.’ remake will be called “Love Affair,” while others suggest pic may end up with an entirely new title because of complex deals about rights to the McCarey titles. Meanwhile, working title is “Love Affair.”

There is some dispute over whether or not the RKO title is now considered public domain. Even more complicated are “split rights” to the title “An Affair to Remember.”

One source said the rights are “split” between Beatty and Fox, and Warners doesn’t want to get involved. Another source suggested the contemporary version would do well with a fresh title anyway.

Warner Bros. will have worldwide rights to the pic.

Representatives at Warner Bros. refused comment, as did Beatty and Bening’s agent at CAA.

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