‘Prisoner’ nears prod’n reprieve

“Heaven’s Prisoner,” a movie long in development and entombed by the bankruptcy reorganization of Orion Pictures, appears to be on its way to a $ 20 million-$ 25 million production at Savoy Pictures, starring Alec Baldwin and directed by Phil Joanou, sources said Tuesday.

If a deal is finalized, “Heaven’s Prisoner” will be produced by Ruddy-Morgan Prods., which holds the underlying rights to the series of books on which it is based. Neither Ruddy-Morgan nor Savoy had any comment on the project.

At this point, three leading female roles have yet to be cast. Sources said Baldwin and Joanou have targeted production to start in May.25

“Heaven’s Prisoner” screenplay was written by Harley Peyton, based on the novels by James Lee Burke. In it, Baldwin would play a former Louisiana detective who is drawn into a web of murder and intrigue when he rescues a small child from a downed private plane.

The deal, packaged by CAA, came about after the material went into turnaround at Orion Pictures last year. At that time, Al Ruddy and Andre Morgan and Baldwin stepped in and picked up the rights, sources said.

Among the novelist’s recent books are “Black Cherry Blues” (1989), “The Lost Get-Back Boogie” (1987), “A Morning for Flamingos” (1990).

If “Heaven’s Prisoner” lands at Savoy, it will expand a blossoming relationship between the deep-pocketed production company and actor Baldwin. As previously reported, Baldwin is the front-runner to play the lead in Savoy’s Tom Clancy thriller “Without Remorse”– an ambitious $ 50 million production Savoy hopes to mount by the end of 1994.

Sources said Baldwin remained interested in the project and Savoy has been hotly pursuing the project with Ruddy-Morgan. The actor then brought in Joanou, who previously directed Baldwin’s wife, Kim Basinger, on “Final Analysis.” This marks Joanou’s first feature since signing with CAA late last year. Neither CAA, nor his manager, Douglas Urbanski, returned calls.

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