Following the announcement that Mike Newell and Alan Greenspan’s Dogstar Films is moving its Hollywood home to Fox 2000 from Disney — in addition to entering into a separate first-look deal for its London office with Summit Entertainment — the company has released its development slate, with projects at Fox, Disney, Paramount and in London.
While Newell has never made a film for Fox, he and Fox 2000 topper Laura Ziskin previously were involved with the film “Old Friends,” which the two intended to make before the helmer had his break-out success with “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” While that project never gelled for the duo, Ziskin says, “During that time, I found him to be one of the most astute, brilliant filmmakers I had met. We’ve kept in contact and realized we were on the same wavelength.
“Someone wrote in a review of ‘Donnie Brasco’ that he (Newell) is a ‘Jack-of-all-genres,’ and I think that’s perfect. He is so versatile because he serves the material rather than bending it to fit his will.”
Under Dogstar’s two-year housekeeping pact with Ziskin’s Fox division, the Los Angeles office will continue to be run by president of production Betsy Beers. In addition to her exec duties, Beers serves as producer on several Dogstar projects.
The company also promoted story editor Julie Vallely to director of development in the L.A. office.
“Now that Betsy is actively moving projects from development into production,” Newell said, “it’s wonderful to have the development process continuing under Julie’s capable guidance.”
The Fox 2000 slate is headed by “Pushing Tin,” produced by Art Linson and written by brothers Glen and Les Charles. Newell is down to direct this black comedy about air traffic controllers.
Then there’s the Fox 2000 project “Best Laid Plans,” an edgy character-driven thriller written by Ted Griffin, to be produced by Sean Bailey, Chris Moore and Dogstar’s Beers. A director is being sought.
Newell may possibly direct another Fox 2000 project, which Dogstar is not involved with, “Last Train to Memphis,” about the early years of Elvis, produced by Steve Tisch.
Across the lot, Fox production president Tom Rothman recently bought an untitled black comedy pitch from writer Bob Comfort (“Dogfight”) for Newell to direct. Dogstar will co-produce with Paul Schiff and Michael London of Horizon Pictures.
Back at Disney, Dogstar is continuing to work on “High Fidelity,” an Americanized version of Nick Hornby’s comic novel, which Newell would possibly direct. Scott Rosenberg wrote the first draft, but a second writer is now close to being attached.
Another Disney project is “Heartbreak Hotel,” based on an idea by Renee Shafransky, a romantic comedy about quickie divorces in the Dominican Republic.
Dogstar also is developing “The Story of V” under the old Disney deal, based on a true story about an East German woman who discovers after the fall of the Berlin Wall that her husband is a Stasi secret agent who has been spying on her for 20 years. Clare Foster is writing the screenplay with Dogstar and Matia Karrell taking on producing chores.
Dogstar’s London-based indie projects include “I Capture the Castle” for the BBC, based on Dodie Smith’s novel; and “Ripley’s Game,” a co-production with Ileen Maisel based on a Patricia Highsmith thriller, which will be directed by Tim Fywell.
Finally, Dogstar has the New York comedy “200 Cigarettes” in development with MTV at Paramount. It will be directed by Risa Braman Garcia from a Shana Larsen script, produced by Dogstar’s Beers and MTV’s David Gale.