NEW YORK — One year after bowing their Grand Central Pictures partnership, former studio execs Melinda Farrell and Steven Roffer have put together a Steven Herek vehicle for Paramount, a boxing biopic with “Breakdown” director Jonathan Mostow and two projects they’ve hatched with new Details magazine editor Michael Caruso.
“The idea is to find material that’s under the radar of Hollywood,” said Roffer, a former exec at Warner Bros. and the Fox Network. “Our relationships with journalists and novelists have given us early looks at material.” Farrell, who was a film exec at Paramount, Disney and WB, added: “We find that the best material comes from true stories. We write many of our own treatments, taking true stories and fictionalizing them.”
In a short time, Farrell and Roffer have placed five films with studios and one telepic at CBS. At Paramount, they brought “Triage,” a Scott Anderson novel, to producer Mario Kassar. The novel’s described as an epic love story centering on a war correspondent. Herek, who directed “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and “101 Dalmatians,” has just become attached to the film.
Anderson, a war correspondent who’s a close friend of Farrell, inadvertently hatched another project. He wrote her a letter about a Belfast situation in which a gang of Irish kids mistakenly stole IRA surveillance maps and found themselves being tracked both by the British and IRA. It became “Official Secret,” a film they’ll do with “Air Force One” producers Beacon Communications at Universal, with playwright Bradley Cox writing the script.
The duo are teaming with Paramount-based producers Robert Cort and David Madden on a pic about the life of Jackie Kallen, a woman who thrived in the predominantly male business of prizefighting. She gained a reputation for taking troubled kids from the streets and molding them into fighters. Her prize find was James Toney, who became the middleweight and super middleweight champion. Mostow will write the script and might direct.
Farrell and Roffer are working with Par-based Alan Ladd Jr. on a film about Steve Kratky, a mildly retarded man from Long Island whose fragile life was destroyed when his wife was killed and he inadvertently admitted to murdering her. Kratky was aided by his brother-in-law, who brought in a police detective pal who helped clear him.Farrell and Roffer are teaming with Lawrence Bender at Miramax to do a pic about the formation of the Pep Squad, the first all-black police squad in Harlem, formed right after the assassination of Martin Luther King.
At CBS, they’re producing “Steal Your Heart,” in partnership with Joe Broido and Alexander Enright. The telepic’s written by Paul Eric Myers, about con artists in South Carolina. It came from an NBC “Dateline” segment.
The producers have teamed up with Details editor Caruso on two projects. They hatched “War Incorporated,” about former CIA agents who become corporate mercenaries, and have attached “Daylight” scribe Les Bohem to write it. They’re also working with Caruso on a love story that strays into “The Fly” and “Altered States” terrain: Two young DNA researchers, who are in love, unlock the molecular secret of evolution. Unfortunately they use themselves as the guinea pigs, with horrifying results.
The producers are repped at ICM by Patty Detroit and Danny Greenberg.