Caravan’s ‘Angels’ on fast track

Caravan Pictures has reached an agreement with director Bill Dear to helm screenwriter Holly Goldberg Sloan’s remake of MGM’s 1952 baseball picture “Angels in the Outfield,” sources said Wednesday.

“Angels” is reportedly set to start production in Oakland on Oct. 4. The project has long been a major-league passion for Caravan principals Joe Roth and Roger Birnbaum.

The company is intensely working to close a deal with Danny Glover to star as the Angels’ manager, Knox. Paul Douglas played the manager in the original.

“Angels” is at least the fifth go movie for Caravan in its first year of operation, including director Stephen Herek’s “The Three Musketeers”; the Nick Nolte/Julia Roberts-starrer “I Love Trouble”; director Jeremiah Chechik’s “Tall Tale” (set to start in September); and the Geena Davis pic “Angie, I Says.”

The output is virtually off the scale for a start-up, studio production company, which typically earns its keep if it can produce a feature or two every 18 months.

Hot property

Caravan struck a deal with Turner Entertainment (which owns the original’s rights) for “Angels’ ” sequel rights earlier this year and it was the first screenplay that the nascent company put into active development.

For Roth, “Angels” rekindles a hardcore interest in movies about baseball. As production chief at Morgan Creek, he produced the Charlie Sheen-starrer “Major League,” and as chairman of 20th Century Fox he greenlighted director Daniel Stern’s “Rookie of the Year.”

Times may change things

There are major differences between Caravan’s version of “Angels” and MGM’s, including the fact that Caravan’s story is positioned from the point-of-view of an 11-year-old boy who believes his family will get back together if the Angels win the pennant. The original story was told by a female sportswriter, who has been entirely written out of the present screenplay.

On the Glover front, Caravan is currently negotiating with William Morris Agency worldwide head of the motion picture division Arnold Rifkin in an attempt to close a deal with the star of such movies as “Lethal Weapon,” “To Sleep With Anger” and “Grand Canyon.”

No other cast has been set in “Angels.”

Good reps

Screenwriter Sloan was represented by Geoff Sanford of the firm Sanford-Skouras-Gross. Her previous produced credit was the Whoopi Goldberg/Ted Danson pic “Made in America,” which has grossed $ 42.6 million for Warner Bros. over its first 59 days of release.

Director Dear’s previous credits include “If Looks Could Kill” and “Harry and the Hendersons.” He is represented by David Schiff at the United Talent Agency.

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