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Hoffman may helm first film

Dustin Hoffman is seriously discussing a deal with Castle Rock Entertainment to direct “Little Big League,” which would mark the actor’s first time behind the camera.

While Castle Rock VP publicity and promotion John De Simio “respectfully declined comment” on Hoffman, “Little Big League” producer Mike Lobell confirmed Friday that Hoffman has discussed directing the pic.

Late Friday, Hoffman’s deal as director had not yet crossed the finish line. There are reportedly some disagreements over price, but sources indicated that discussions center on “certain creative freedoms” that Hoffman wants assured.

Levin, Maloney involved

Creative Artists Agency has teamed Jon Levin and Jay Maloney on the Hoffman negotiations.

Hoffman’s attorney Bertram Fields would not comment on the specifics, but confirmed that Hoffman is actively rounding up projects for his directorial debut. According to a knowledgable source involved in the machinations, “Little Big League” is clearly the project that Hoffman “is focused on.”

If the deal does not close, others are at the ready. Hoffman has expressed interest in two projects at Sandollar Prods.: “The Prince and the Pauper,” which is harbored at Columbia Pictures and rumored to be earmarked for Macaulay Culkin , and a screen adaptation of Avery Corman’s novel “Prized Possessions.”

Hoffman’s transition to the director’s chair is viewed as an overdue step for an actor who has often expressed strong feelings about the direction of scenes. A best actor Oscar winner for his “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Rain Man,” Hoffman has frequently been labeled as a “difficult” actor who often clashes with the directors.

The best known example were his frequent, well-documented battles with Sydney Pollack during the making of “Tootsie.” More recently, Hoffman lobbied hard for reshoots on Disney’s “Billy Bathgate” before its 1991 release.

A little big man

“Little Big League” is about an 11-year-old boy who inherits the Kansas City Royals from his grandfather, and names himself manager. It is at the forefront of Castle Rock’s production plans, with production slated for 1993.

Written by Greg Pincus, “Little” was sold to Castle Rock in 1991 for an upfront payment of $ 250,000 against $ 500,000. In a deal brokered by former International Creative Management agent Adam Fierro, Castle Rock edged out Imagine Films in the bidding. The company has since hired Adam Scheinman to rewrite the script.

Producer Lobell has been involved in “Little Big League” from the beginning, carrying the project for 23 months under the Lobell/Bergman Prods. shingle — a partnership between producer Lobell and director Andrew Bergman.

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