Leder inks D’Works deal, eyes ‘Journey’

Mimi Leder, who directed DreamWorks’ first live-action feature “The Peacemaker” and is currently in production on the company’s big-budget asteroid project “Deep Impact,” has signed a deal to direct one of her next two features for the company.

She is currently eyeing the epic romancer “Sentimental Journey,” a project in development at DreamWorks. The project was scripted by her father, Paul Leder, who died last year right before Leder began production on the Nicole Kidman-George Clooney starrer “The Peacemaker.”

The story is an epic about how two people from disparate cultures found love amid the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. It is based on the life of her father, a soldier in General Patton’s army, and her mother Etyl, a survivor of Auschwitz.

Leder’s brother Reuben is rewriting the project and Leder said she plans for her sister, Geraldine, a casting director at Warner Bros., to cast the project.

‘Testament’

“It’s a testament to our parents’ lives,” Leder told Daily Variety. “It’s about how our mother and father found each other. This is the story my father wanted to tell and now we are going to fulfill his dream.”

The relationship between Steven Spielberg and Leder began several years ago when Leder began working on Amblin Television’s highly successful drama series “ER.” She won an Emmy for her direction of an “ER” episode and received another as one of the show’s producers when it was named best drama series.

“Mimi is such a talented director that she is equally at home with epic action or intense emotional moments,” said Spielberg. “I am personally delighted that all of us at DreamWorks are continuing our relationship with her.”

Vote of confidence

In a major vote of confidence and a move that raised eyebrows, Spielberg hired Leder to make her feature film debut on DreamWorks’ first feature, “The Peacemaker,” which bows Sept. 26.

“They have all been very good to me,” Leder said, adding that Spielberg and DreamWorks Pictures co-heads Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald “have been very positive influences in my career and have been extremely supportive and encouraging. It’s great when filmmakers are running a studio because it gives the filmmaker a unique dialogue that sometimes you can’t have in other places where there is an executive hierarchy.”

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