Silberling plays it ‘Straight’

Brad Silberling has been set to direct DreamWorks Pictures’ comedy “Straight Man,” based on the book by Richard Russo.

The project will go in the first quarter of 1998 and marks the first for producer Mark Johnson under his DreamWorks deal. Russo is in the process of adapting his own novel for the screen.

“Straight Man” follows seven days in the life of Hank Devereaux, an unlikely chairman of the English Dept. at a small, stuffy Pennsylvania college. During that week, he has to negotiate his way through a barrage of unexpected family problems.

The project reunites Silberling and DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg. The two previously collaborated on “Casper” for Universal Pictures, which marked Silberling’s feature film directorial debut. The director just completed work on his second feature, “City of Angels,” starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.

Russo most recently co-wrote the screenplay for Paramount’s “Magic Hour” with Robert Benton. The film, due out next year, stars Paul Newman, James Garner, Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon. He also authored “Nobody’s Fool” for Benton.

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