While many on Broadway charge that Hollywood pillages the stage for writers and talent, there are ways for the two to actually co-exist. The hot playwright Jon Robin Baitz is pioneering just such an arrangement. He wrote a play called “Dutch Landscape,” which played at L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum to mixed reviews. But the play caught the attention of Paramount and producer Kathleen Kennedy, who made a deal to finance the chance for Baitz to work the rough spots out of his play and do a workshop with the Naked Angels theater company.
For the approximately $25,000 Paramount put up, it gets first crack at an option of the play, now called “A Fair Country,” which will bow at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theatre in the spring. If Paramount likes what it sees, Baitz will adapt the play for the screen, just as he did with “The Substance of Fire,” which Dan Sullivan just directed for Miramax with Ron Rifkin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tim Hutton and Tony Goldwyn.
In a deal made by Baitz’s William Morris agents George Lane and Michael Peretzian, the price of the option will be tied to the success of the play onstage.
Baitz has also entered into a scriptwriting deal with Fox 2000, and that studio will essentially underwrite the workshop process for his next two plays, and get first crack at optioning them.