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Eight’s too much: ‘Flintstones’ scribes left in rubble

EIGHT MEN OUT ON “FLINTSTONES” credit flap: The latest chapter in the script saga behind Universal’s “The Flintstones” might well be titled “Eight Men Out.” In a shocking decision, the Writers Guild has thrown out a preliminary listing of screen credit submitted by Amblin and Universal that gave credit to director Brian Levant and seven others who sat around a table and finished the script.

These “Flintstones” scribes were disqualified because of a well-known Guild rule that says a waiver must be obtained in advance if a writing team exceeds two.

Guild brass, who’ve been as busy as L.A. chimney repairmen sorting out this mess, have awarded sole screen credit to the writing team of Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein, with story credit still going to Michael Wilson.

This is subject to arbitration, almost a certainty, because so many big-name writers took part in forming the bedrock of the storyline. Participating scribes include Gary Ross, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, Steven deSouza, Daniel and Joshua Goldin, and Jeffrey Reno and Ron Osbourne. Some, like Reno and Osbourne, won’t press for credit, but there will undoubtedly be some unhappy campers following the WGA decision.

The revelation that 35 writers worked on “The Flintstones” and that Levant solved the script’s problems through a round-table fashion common to the TV biz has created much consternation for the Guild. The writers who were excluded, aside from Levant, are Al Aidekman, Cindy Begel, Lloyd Garver, David Silverman, Stephen Sustarsic, Nancy Steen and Neil Thompson.

A letter sent to all the writers from WGA head Frank Pierson indicates the Guild wants to crack down on the practice of table writing, since it feels that writers get stiffed not only on credit but also money.

SNIPES HUNTING: The race to get Wesley Snipes signed for his next picture is intensifying. Just when it seemed that Snipes was all set to don a dress and do the Amblin/Universal Beeban Kidron-directed “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar,” right after he finished reteaming with Woody Harrelson in Columbia’s “The Money Train,” Paramount has upset everything by coming in with an offer of $ 8 million for Snipes to star in the John Badham-directed “Drop Zone.” Now, Snipes could sign to star in this movie before the week’s out.

Mind you, Snipes already donned drag for Kidron and tested favorably, and seemed poised to star alongside Gary Oldman in scripter Douglas Carter Beane’s film about three drag queens who, while traveling cross-country to a queen contest, get stranded in the Midwest. Snipes, who did a distinguished turn in “The Waterdance,” likes to balance his he-man turns with eclectic acting opportunities, and it’s conceivable he’ll be tarting up this summer.

The earliest “To Wong Foo” would shoot is if Snipes did “Drop Zone” this spring.

This could derail Col’s plans for “Money Train,” a big-budget priority also primed for a spring shoot. Because Snipes can’t do both, it will come down to which studio wants him more, and drive Snipes’ price up to $ 10 million.

Par is anxious to get its skydiving actioner off the ground before it loses Badham. Steven Seagal had the offer, but no way he was getting out of an ironclad commitment to Warner Bros. “Money Train” could delay its departure until fall, but that might conflict with Harrelson’s commitments. There will be some high-stakes maneuvering over the next few days to secure Snipes’ services.

CALLEY SCORES SPEC: UA chairman John Calley’s intention to use his strong relationships to build United Artists back into a viable shingle is bearing fruit. DISH hears Calley has just completed a preemptive buy of a much-coveted Floyd Mutrux spec script “Common Ground,” an actioner about airport cops at LAX. The purchase price was said to be $ 550,000 with producing fees also built in that could bring the entire deal to near seven figures.

The franchise potential of this high-octane premise made the script the talk of Hollywood last week, but Mutrux had his ICM agents, Jeff Berg and Richard Feldman, give Calley first crack because of old ties. Calley took full advantage. Mutrux, whose scriptings include “American Me,””Dick Tracy” and “Freebie and the Bean,” is back with a flourish. Calley couldn’t be reached.

A SMALLEY WORLD: Even though it seemed no one outside of Planet Remulak wanted to see “The Coneheads,” and grosses waned below expectations on “Wayne’s World II,” Paramount is still bullish about the film potential of “Saturday Night Live” characters. The studio is closing a deal with Harold Ramis to direct a feature revolving around Stuart Smalley, the nerdy Al Franken character who’s hopelessly addicted to 12-step programs to cope with life, DISH hears from Par sources. The script already has been written by Franken, who’ll make his motion picture starring debut. Shooting is expected to start in May.

Paramount has scored a coup in landing Ramis, who doesn’t direct that often, but whose last film, “Groundhog Day,” was a solid hit for Columbia. That studio certainly won’t be happy, since Ramis has a first-look deal there. But Ramis fell in love with the script, and since Par producer Lorne Michaels is the gatekeeper for “SNL” spinoffs, the film gets made at Par.

LADDIE’S BUNCH: Here’s the story, of a man named Laddie, who was bringing up a very lovely slate of pictures. But these projects take awhile to come together , and Paramount would like to put Alan Ladd Jr. to work right away. That’s the way he became the producer of “The Brady Bunch.” DISH hears the former MGM chairman has adopted the “Brady” project that was orphaned when producer David Kirkpatrick unceremoniously exited the studio. While a campy TV series adaptation probably wasn’t the kind of elegant pic Par had in mind when Ladd became a producer there, the comedy’s just about ready to shoot.

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