Disney’s Katzenberg falls for ‘Love Story’

Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg last weekend engineered the acquisition of first-time screenwriter Morgan Ward’s “A Pyromaniac’s Love Story, ” which will be produced by Mark Gordon for Hollywood Pictures, the writer’s agent confirmed Monday.

The spec screenplay deal was pegged by studio sources at $ 300,000, with escalator clauses that could up the price to $ 650,000.

The deal has an unusual twist: a blind-script commitment from Disney to purchase a second screenplay from Ward.

Gersh Agency talent broker Ron Bernstein confirmed the Aug. 21 sale of “A Pyromaniac’s Love Story,” but declined comment on the reported purchase price. A spokesman for Disney Studios had no comment.

Disney was closely guarded on the story line while Bernstein described it as an “off-center love story” in the tradition of playwright John Patrick Shanley. Katzenberg reportedly pushed the sale through the studio on Saturday, following early interest from Disney VP of production Chip Diggins.

Producer Gordon’s two-year, non-exclusive, first-look deal at Hollywood Pictures expired earlier this year. He has since cuta deal at 20th Century Fox for the action picture “Speed,” which was written by Graham Yost and will be co-produced by Allison Ayon.

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