Arnold Kopelson, who bought last week’s hot script “Como Bluff,” beat out several other suitors to land this week’s hot spec as well. New Line will pay a mid-six-figure sum against a high six-figure sum for “Second Defense,” a big-budget virtual reality thriller by Kurt Wimmer, in a deal made by ICM’s Tom Strickler. The script went to buyers on Tuesday and a deal was finalized within 24 hours by New Line exec veep Richard Saperstein and veep Lynn Harris.
It’s the first major Kopelson spec project to be set up with New Line since the two joined forces in an effort to buy the actioner “Overkill,” which Fox ultimately won. Kopelson has a first-look deal at Warner Bros., where he made last year’s smash “The Fugitive.” That pic got him the nod as the NATO/ShoWest Producer of the Year and a nomination for best picture Oscar.
“Second Defense” was developed by Amanda Stern and Sunil Perkash, who brought it to several producers, including Kopelson. The two will serve as executive producers on the project. It’s the first major sale for Wimmer,who differs from the bumper crop of spec-selling USC grads. Wimmer came to Hollywood armed with a biology degree from the U. of South Florida, obviously a help for sci-fi fare.
JANSEN, BAIUL FIND MORE GOLD: It’s a gold rush for gold medal Olympians Dan Jansen and Oksana Baiul, who are both close to doing CBS telepix in deals that are stretching the financiallimits for rights deals. Baiul, who beat Nancy Kerrigan for the gold medal, is close to a rights deal with Robert Halmi for her CBS telepic, Dish hears. Her agent, Mickey Freiberg of the Artists Agency, entertained numerous serious bids from producers but Halmi put up the winning six-figure bid, though he could not be reached at press time. Rights to the Jansen story, which also will land at CBS, have been won by Warner Bros. Dish hears WB agreed to pay $ 150,000 upfront, another $ 100,000 at the scripting stage and $ 500,000 when the network picks up the movie. Dish also learned at press time that producer Zev Braun closed rights for Tonya Harding’s authorized story. He’s talking with webs, cable nets and a feature outlet. Her attorney, Keven Davis, hopes her plea bargain Wednesday clears the way for a deal: “She admitted something she already admitted to. She denied any involvement prior to attack, and this proves it once and for all.”
EAGLES EYEING BABS: Barbra Streisand won’t be the only hot concert date the night of May 27 when she plays the Anaheim Pond. Dish hears that the Eagles, who are being re-formed for a massive tour and possibly a reunion album, are considering opening their tour the same night at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. The rockers, who staged their last concert in Southern California in the Long Beach Arena in July 1980, decided to take it easy and stay local to kick off their long-awaited regrouping.
QUENTIN BOARDS CRIMSON: Hollywood’s highest octane scribe, Quentin Tarantino, is close to climbing aboard “Crimson Tide,” the Simpson-Bruckheimer produced film for HollywoodPictures to be directed by Tony Scott, who helmed Tarantino’s last action-laced script, Morgan Creek’s “True Romance.” And the next to come aboard could well be Warren Beatty. The film, a draft of which is in from Michael Schiffer (“Colors”), concerns two captains aboard a nuclear submarine who, after receiving an order to nuke Russia, get another garbled order. A vet sub commander and his counterpart are in complete disagreement over whether to start a nuclear war, dividing the crew. The leads are two of the hottest roles for actors: Beatty has the offer for the senior commander before him right now, and is expected to decide any moment. Val Kilmer and Andy Garcia are among those pining for the role of the younger officer.
HAUSER HAIR CRISIS: Last time John Amos starred in a Norman Lear series, they killed his character. This time, his hair has been offed. Dish hears that for the first four episodes of “704 Hauser,” Amos, who plays the patriarch of the house once inhabited by Archie Bunker, showed up to work sporting hair. But several episodes in, he surprised everyone by showing up bald. While his character, James Evans, from Lear’s “Good Times,” got killed in an auto accident when Amos held out for a raise, there’s no explanation for this hair razing. Dish wonders if Amos isn’t angling for one of the many bald guy roles in “The Deal From Hell,” Ray Stark’s planned telepic about the battle for Paramount by Viacom and QVC.
DISNEY DISSING: While I’m not surprised that Disney is distressed about my revelation of nude shots of Jessica Rabbit in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” the notion that Disney’s hunting down the animators is silly. The animators who worked on the pic are the best in the business; all are the caliber of Rob Minkoff, who worked on “Roger” and co-directed “The Lion King,” which is the studio’s big summer hopeful. That would be like Universal telling Steven Spielberg he’d never work again if velociraptor naughty bits showed up in the laserdisc version of “Jurassic Park.” In the days when Walt ran things, animators always tried to sneak naughty frames by him, and legend has it he could catch them even at full speed. Meanwhile, Dish hears that the frames of Jessica Rabbit dropping her top are available on the collector market. Each animator was given six cells of his choice to keep as mementos. Disney would never have allowed the nudies to hit the open market, but the topless frames were ordered cut out before the movie was released, and the animator took six of them home. A few have spilled onto the collector market and are selling for about $ 3,000. As for an unnamed Disney exec’s admonition that the whole blowup comes under the “get-a-life department,” Dish feels it’s better filed under the get-a-sense-of-humor department.