Danson to drive Par’s ‘Pontiac’

Having hung up his “Cheers” apron and enjoying the success of “Made in America,” Ted Danson is keeping a high profile as his Paramount-based Anasazi Prods. ramps up an active feature and television slate.

In addition to developing and producing projects under his first-look studio deal, which has been in place since 1988, Danson has been signed to star in Par’s feature “Pontiac Moon.”

To be executive produced by Anasazi and produced by Eclectic Films, “Pontiac Moon” is a road movie about a father and son driving a Pontiac to the Craters of the Moon National Monument, with the boy’s mother in hot pursuit.

Project written by Finn Taylor and Jeff Brown is still without a director officially attached, but sources said a deal is at hand and film is skedded to roll this fall.

Danson is currently co-starring with Macaulay Culkin in MGM’s “Getting Even With Dad” under Howard Deutch’s direction.

In its first five years, Danson’s company has produced the television movies “Follow Your Heart” and “When the Bough Breaks,” both for NBC, the network that aired “Cheers.” In addition, the company also produced the NBC sitcom “Down Home.”

“Pontiac Moon” marks the first greenlighted feature project for Anasazi Prods. The company also is working on a number of other feature projects that could star Danson.

High on the company’s feature development list are “The Stolen Gods,” a whodunit set in Santa Fe, N.M., written by company president Robert Benedetti, and “Hard Knocks,” written by Justine Blau.

Anasazi is also busily developing adaptations of several novels, including Barbara Kingsolver’s best-selling “Animal Dreams.” With a screenplay written by Benedetti, it’s the story of a woman’s midlife crisis.

Another high-priority book project is Stephen Smoke’s “Black Butterfly.” Smoke will adapt his thriller, set in the L.A. art world, for the big screen.

On the TV side, Anasazi is developing “Dominion” with Glacier Point Prods. for Turner Network Television. Set at the turn of the century, it’s the story of John Muir’s ultimately unsuccessful fight to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley, which was filled in to provide water for San Francisco.

The company’s “Mercy Mission: The Rescue of Flight 771,” is scheduled to air on NBC next December. The holiday-themed movie stars Robert Loggia and Scott Bakula and chronicles the ordeal of a young U.S. pilot lost on Christmas Eve in New Zealand.

A project for the Disney Channel, “My Precious T-Top,” goes into pre-production next week. Written by Ken Sagoes, it’s the story of a relationship between a young black boy and an older white woman in a Southern town in the 1950s. The film will star Joan Plowright and be directed by Joan Tewkesbury.

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