WB fetches Hughes to walk ‘Dog’

Warner Bros. has recruited John Hughes to rewrite, co-produce and likely direct “Good Dog, Carl,” a project very similar to the filmmaker’s go movie, “Baby’s Day Out,” at 20th Century Fox.

Both stories deal with a baby in jeopardy.

“Baby’s Day Out,” an original script by Hughes that will be directed by Patrick Read Johnson this fall, is about an infant who is kidnapped by bumbling criminals, who lose him almost immediately and have to get him back.

“Good Dog, Carl,” based on Alexandra Day’s best-selling children’s books, is an adaptation by David Simkins about a girl toddler who is kidnapped and rescued by a Rottweiler dog named Carl.

Both stories center on the comic misadventures that ensue as a baby is being chased throughout a city by its kidnappers.

Hughes’surprise involvement in “Good Dog,” which he will co-produce with Robert Lawrence, has interrupted WB’s original production plans for the movie.

Discussions had been under way with David Mickey Evans to direct the picture in the next couple of months, though no deal had been struck.

Now, however, Evans is off the project and the film is no longer on the fast track.

Hughes has reportedly told WB he plans to make the movie no earlier than late this year.

Evans, who just directed “Sandlot” for Fox, due out April 9, was fired from Columbia’s “Radio Flyer,” a script he wrote and which would have marked his directorial debut in 1991.

But according to his agent, Jeremy Zimmer of United Talent Agency, the fact that Evans will not direct “Good Dog” was not upsetting to his client.

“We don’t feel we were slighted. They wanted to get Hughes involved and we understand that,” said Zimmer, adding that Evans did not want to wait around until the “Dog” would go. Instead, he wants to concentrate on getting a project up and going at Fox, where he signed a new first-look deal two weeks ago (Daily Variety, March 10).

However, sources indicated that Lawrence, who originally developed “Dog” at Columbia, is quite upset that the picture is being revamped and delayed.

The producer had offered “Dog” to Fox under his first-look deal there after Columbia put the project into turnaround. He then took it to WB, which picked up the rights to the Day books for a reported $ 600,000.

Confirmation of the “Dog” project is just one more example of Hughes taking advantage of his unique position of having side-by-side, non-exclusive deals at both Warner Bros. and Fox.

The writer-producer-director inked a longstanding multipic pact with WB in 1987, but when WB passed on the original “Home Alone” for a mere $ 750,000, Hughes took the project to Fox, where it became the third largest grossing film of all time with a whopping $ 281.5 million domestically and $ 140 million-plus internationally.

Hughes subsequently signed a seven-picture first-look writing and producing deal at Fox (Daily Variety, April 15, 1991), which lead to the current smash sequel, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” The film has grossed $ 170,988,410 domestically after 122 days in release (Daily Variety, March 22).

Nonetheless, Hughes has been exercising his open-ended Warners deal by writing and producing “Dennis the Menace” (skedded for a summer release).

Meanwhile, “Good Dog’s” original scripter Simkins is reportedly about to close a two-picture deal at Fox, one based on a pitch called “Natural Wonder,” the other a blind commitment.

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