Watch out for Wayans; Penn throws weight around

WAYANS WORLD II AT FOX: In the Wayans world, if you fight with one family member, you take them all on. Likewise if you want to make peace. Fox was on the outs with the family after Keenen Ivory Wayans disagreed with Fox’s rerun policy and bolted his creation, “In Living Color,” with his siblings following suit.

So when Fox wanted to make a movie out of one of the most popular recurring characters in the sketchcom, Homey the Clown, Damon Wayans, who created the character and wears the clown suit, set down a ground rule. Wayans at first said no way unless Fox dropped the litigation it brought against sister Kim Wayans for defecting from the TV show, which Fox did.

While none of the principals would comment, the way is now clear for Damon to bring his angry clown to the screen. The plot, DISH hears, is reminiscent of “48 HRS.”: Homey’s in prison — with prison fatigues and full clown facial makeup — until he’s freed by the toughest cop alive to solve a crime in a circus. The toughest cop alive just happens to be a midget.

PENN PULLS NO PUNCHES: Don’t think teaser trailers aren’t important to movie stars.

Universal put together an early trailer to build excitement for “Carlito’s Way,” starring Al Pacino and directed by Brian De Palma. The trailer highlighted Pacino, showing his classic roles, including the Oscar-winning “Scent of a Woman.”

Since the teaser was shot before “Carlito” co-star Sean Penn’s scenes were done, he was excluded from the trailer. After a Penn pal saw it in theaters and told the actor, Penn responded as if he’d been asked to say “cheese” by a swarm of photographers.

Penn was angry enough to stay away from work one day, ruining the shooting day, per sources. While U weighed replacing him or even suing him, the studio finally decided to scrap the trailers, and do new ones. Estimated cost: $ 400, 000.

SCOTT’S ROOM: Paramount sure is making it hard for Scott Rudin to leave. The prolific producer delayed his exit to TriStar a year, when Par ponied up $ 750, 000 to buy the novel “The Alienist” for him earlier this week (Daily Variety, June 29).

Now, DISH hears that Rudin has also quietly optioned “Marvin’s Room,” the acclaimed off-Broadway play written by the late playwright Scott McPherson. Tribeca was developing the project with Bonnie Palef and Meryl Streep was supposed to star with Anjelica Huston at one point, then they dropped out and Judy Davis was doing it with Jessica Lange.

According to sources, Tribeca will be exec producer while Rudin takes the reins, with a list of actresses lined up to star. He plans to use the first script draft that was turned in by McPherson before he died.

Rudin, opening “The Firm,” was unreachable. Add “Marvin’s Room” to his other Par projects like “Nobody’s Fool,” which will be directed by Robert Benton and likely star Paul Newman, and TriStar might get him in a year — or two, or three.

PLAY BALL! In a feverish summer book auction battle, Paramount producers Tina Nides and Kevin McCormick beat out suitors from Fox, Warner Bros., Hollywood Pictures and Columbia to buy screen rights for “Hardball: A Season in the Projects.”

It’s 28-year-old Daniel Coyle’s non-fiction book about how the author — a senior editor at Outside magazine — and six others coached a Little League team from Chicago’s Cabrini-Green, one of the most dangerous housing projects in the country, with prevalent gang violence and poverty.

Though the kids didn’t know the first thing about baseball, and the kids’ neighborhood was ravaged by violence, the team went all the way to a championship match in Iowa, the first time the kids ventured outside the projects. Putnam will publish the book in January.

GRISHAM FISHIN’? John Grisham won’t be done with his next novel until the winter. With record bucks being thrown around for books by the studios, and with “The Firm” just opened, is he trying to cash in before he’s done typing?

DISH hears his agent, Jay Garon, is on the West Coast this week, giving a verbal pitch of the Grisham yarn and establishing a record floor of $ 3 million. Warner Bros., which bought his last two books, is hot and heavy. Garon’s Gotham-based office acknowledged he’s on the coast, but said the pitch rumor wasn’t quite true and he was just testing the waters. What’s Grisham’s book about? Come up with the $ 3 million, and DISH will tell you.

FRANK ‘N’ FRANK: Maybe Sony can get a package deal on neck bolts. TriStar’s already making”Frankenstein” with Robert De Niro playing the creature and Kenneth Branagh directing. Now, Jerry Zucker is developing his own version of the green guy’s story, which he’ll direct at Columbia. This one doesn’t sound quite so serious, though, with a working title of “Frankenstein Goes to Suburbia.”

JED HOMAGE: How could you make a screen version of “The Beverly Hillbillies” without paying proper tribute to the venerable patriarch of the Clampett clan, Buddy Ebsen, the original Jed? In Fox’s screen version, DISH hears Ebsen appears — as his other series character, private eye Barnaby Jones.

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Voices News from Variety