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Interscope buys ‘Sandman’

Almost a year to the day after Alph Prods.’ first short film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, the fledgling company has set up its first feature, “Mr. Sandman,” at Interscope. The oddball love story script, penned by Rick Ramage, had a price tag in the mid-six-figures and will go out to talent in a few months after a rewrite is completed.

Interscope’s Robert Cort and Ted Field will executive produce and Diana Nabutoff will produce.

“This looks like the beginning of a long working relationship with Rick Ramage, Interscope and Alph Prods.,” said Alph’s CEO Alessandro Uzielli. “We formed Alph to develop projects that may have been overlooked by the studios but have commercial potential when properly executed by a small company.”

While screenwriter Ramage has several other scripts in development — including “Shakespeare’s Sister” at Interscope, “Bicentennial Man” with Joe Roth, and an adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter” for David Kirkpatrick –“Sandman” represents Alph’s first foray into the feature business.

Founded in 1992, Alph is the May/December marriage of veteran producer Mort Abrahams (whose credits include “Dr. Doolittle” and “Planet of the Apes”) and Uzielli, an engaging young AFI grad with strong ties to many young directors and scribes. In addition to “Mr. Sandman,” the Century City-based duo is currently shopping several projects around Hollywood. They have no studio affiliation.

One project generating a lot of interest is Shay Duffin’s biopic script about legendary Irish playwright Brendan Behan. “Brendan,” as the script is titled, recounts the life of the self-destructive former IRA member.

Another Alph project making the rounds is “Spur of the Moment,” the story of three young adults who bring a dead woman to life as an antidote to their colorless lives. Sadly, the woman proceeds to make them miserable. The script is by Norman Hudis, who penned several of the British “Carry On” comedies.

Finally, Alph is in pre-production on a short film that features comedian/actor/screenwriter Steve Bowers playing a multitude of characters as Alec Guinness did in “Kind Hearts and Coronets.”

The company’s name is not a reflection of the producers’ fondness for the furry alien that appeared on NBC for several seasons. Alph is taken from the first two letters of its principal investors’ names, Alessandro and his uncle Phil Uzielli.

In other Sundance news, distributors continue to circle several films, including Roger Avary’s “Killing Zoe,” Richard Glatzer’s “Grief” and David Russell’s “Spanking the Monkey.”

“Monkey” is the story of a gifted young medico who has to pass up a summer at the surgeon general’s office to care for his mother, who eventually draws him into a tangled web of incest. Two major indies are vying for the flick.

“Grief,” a comedy set behind the scenes at a fictional dating show, will most likely be released by Strand.

As talent agents continue to hit town, some filmmakers have simply been playing possum. Sources report that David Wellington, the agentless and highly coveted director of “I Love a Man in Uniform,” has beat a hasty retreat to the Great White North so he can watch the Super Bowl in peace.

But others are reveling in the limelight. David Keith, who starred in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” belted out a few country & western toe-tappers with a local band at the Saddle & Spur on Tuesday night. Perhaps that explains the early exodus to Miramax’s after-bash that was so overcrowded that the condo’s front porch resembled a Who concert in the rust belt.

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