Ted Demme to direct ‘Spidertown’ for Col

After the short film “The Bet,” the comedy “Who’s the Man?” and the current Touchstone production “The Ref,” director Ted Demme is stepping up to develop an adaptation of Abraham Rodriguez Jr.’s novel “Spidertown” for Columbia Pictures, sources said Tuesday.

Engineered through Sandy Gallin and Dolly Parton’s Sandollar Prods., which has an overall term deal at Colpix, “Spidertown” represents a significant career challenge for Demme.

The project has already drawn comparisons to the type of literary material that helped Demme’s uncle, Jonathan Demme, make the transition from “Married to the Mob” to “Silence of the Lambs” and the upcoming Tom Hanks/Denzel Washington starrer “Philadelphia.”

In addition, Demme’s deal to direct “Spidertown” moves the project a step closer to production, following lengthy fallow period.

The property was originally acquired by Columbia for Sandollar for $ 75,000 against $ 350,000, edging out a bid from Paula Weinstein’s Spring Creek Prods (Daily Variety, Aug. 3, 1992).

At the time of the acquisition, it was widely speculated at Colpix that “El Mariachi” director Robert Rodriguez would helm “Spidertown.” (Rodriguez has since turned in a sequel screenplay to his independent debut “El Mariachi,” which he’ll probably direct for Columbia as his next project.)

Columbia Pictures veepee of production Stephanie Allain is spearheading development and production of “Spidertown” for the studio. She’s the executive previously involved in John Singleton’s “Poetic Justice,””Boyz N the Hood” and “El Mariachi.”

Sandollar and Demme are in the process of finding a screenwriter to adapt Abraham Rodriguez’s novel. At Sandollar, company president Carol Baum is spearheading the development and production of “Spidertown.” Published by Hyperion Press, the book is an urban love story set in the South Bronx. It focuses on a fast-living and oversexed drug runner, Miguel, who realizes the danger his life is in only after he falls in love with a beautiful, religious and pragmatic girl named Cristalena.

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