Rabin ankles Morgan Creek

Veteran movie executive Cathy Rabin has spent the last seven years developing and packaging movies. But after writing a screenplay over Christmas, she’s ankled her position as vice president of creative affairs for Warner Bros.-based Morgan Creek Prods. to launch a Hollywood screenwriting career,she confirmed Monday.

In entering the writer’s ranks, Rabin has signed for representation with William Morris Agency literary head Beth Swofford. She said she expects some fallout from her Hollywood colleagues in making the decision to bypass a steady paycheck in exchange for a possible back-end deal.

“I’m feeling a kind of kinship to Michael Jordan right now,” said Rabin. “Everyone wonders why he would leave basketball to play baseball, and judges him for it. Sometimes, we have to take a risk.”

Rabin will officially vacate her Morgan Creek post on Friday.

Uses S. O’Shea pseudonym

Rabin got validation from outside sources before handing in her Morgan Creek resignation. After writing her screenplay, she submitted it under the pseudonym S. O’Shea to a Morgan Creek reader and received a recommend from the company. (Rabin’s moniker refers to the character Sugarpuss O’Shea in Billy Wilder’s “Ball of Fire.”)

“I’ll be taking up offices in the old Writers and Artists building (in Beverly Hills), where Billy Wilder used to have offices,” Rabin said.

A teacher of screenwriting at UCLA’s graduate film school, Rabin said she submitted her screenplay under the pseudonym because she wanted it to be judged in an unbiased environment.

The logline for the untitled script, which spans from 1922 to present, reads: “The future of the French colony in the Congo hinges on the fate of one African trapped on a rock in a rushing river.”

Nykvist to helm project

Sven Nykvist, whose picture “The Ox” was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign lanuage film in 1991, already is attached as director of the project.

United Artists veepee of production Jeff Kleeman, who has read the script, said the project is “completely convincing and astonishing.” In addressing the future of the project, he said, “On its own terms it is extraordinarily successfully, but … it’s an art-house film … It’s not the sort of project as a studio executive I would immediately rush after, but what it does is let me know that she’s the sort of writer I should rush after.”

‘Logical transition’

Leslie Dixon, who co-wrote “Mrs. Doubtfire” and wrote “Outrageous Fortune” and “Overboard,” said Rabin “has always given me notes like a writer and not like a development executive. She understands how not to pull threads and make scripts fall apart. It seems like a logical transition for her to put her ass in a chair and do it herself.”

Rabin leaves Morgan Creek after 13 months as a veepee. During her tenure at the company, she was involved in such projects as director John Milius’ Viking epic “The Northmen” and “Zebrahead” helmer Anthony Drazen’s “Imaginary Crimes,” which stars Harvey Keitel and wrapped production in December.

Rabin has some major Hollywood credentials as an executive. A director of development at Vestron Pictures, and veepee at Rastar-Indieprod, Rabin segued to Carolco Pictures as a veepee of production in 1990.

Two years later, she went to Meg Ryan’s Fandango Films before landing at Morgan Creek last year.

Among the pix that she has been involved in are Renny Harlin’s “Cutthroat Island,” which Rabin bought for Carolco, the Sylvester Stallone starrer “Cliffhanger,” director Martha Coolidge’s “Rambling Rose” and Richard Attenborough’s “Chaplin”– the project that led to her introduction to cinematographer turned director Nykvist, who was director of photography on the TriStar pic.

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