Kaye gets leg up on ‘Arm’

Having just wrapped his feature debut “American History X” at New Line, director Tony Kaye has optioned “One Arm,” an unproduced script written by Tennessee Williams in the 1960s. Kaye’s UTA agent Marty Bauer will look shortly to set it up as Kaye’s sophomore effort.

“It was maybe the most experimental thing Williams ever wrote,” said Kaye. The plot concerns an amateur boxer who loses an arm and his pride, and becomes a gay hustler who ends up on death row. “He’d traveled the country and helped people, and gets an outpouring of letters which redeem him, and which he carries to the electric chair where they fry with him,” said Kaye.

Everything Kaye does involves challenging contemporary mores. That includes “American History X,” a stark view of racism and skinheads that stars Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. That outlook also has fueled Kaye’s personal project for the past six years, a nearly finished abortion documentary called “G-D.”

The docu shows radical images of the issue from both sides, including the depiction of actual abortions — several of late-term pregnancies. “I think it will be the most controversial film ever made, and I set out with that goal,” said Kaye. The English helmer has poured $2.5 million of his own money into it.

Kaye has also set up a feature with MTV and Paramount, “Only Seventeen,” about a 17-year-old girl who contracted AIDS after having sex for the second time in her life. He doesn’t sound like the director you’d call for madcap comedy, though Kaye said he’d like to do one, as long as it’s about something.

“What I’m trying to do is not preach, but make films that change the status quo as much as entertain people,” he said. “Film is such a powerful medium that can do so much good that it’s a shame it’s so underexploited.”

UTA’s Bauer, who just stepped down as percentery prexy, said that whatever he does next, it will be centered around Kaye.

Though Kaye is a newcomer this side of the pond, he’s known in England for helming commercials and for his socially conscious art exhibits. One example of the latter is “Roger,” easily the most unusual artwork on the museum circuit, if only because the subject has to be fed and clothed. Roger is a homeless man who strolls museums bearing a picture frame.

“Roger was a tramp who lived on Waterloo Bridge in London, and I took him off that bridge and turned him into a work of art, paying him a weekly wage and expenses,” said Kaye. “He’s on display every day of the week, with weekends off, of course. He has been everywhere from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.”

Though “Roger” is ostensibly an artwork for sale, no buyers have emerged.

PRISCILLA PICKS PICS: Priscilla Presley’s attorneys have made it clear that her only involvement in the screen adaptation of her tell-all memoir “Child Bride” will be a lawsuit against the producers if they keep claiming she’s a consultant.

But Presley’s got two real film projects in the works, marking her first flurry of feature activity since she co-starred with Leslie Nielsen in the “Naked Gun” series. She’ll star in “Breakfast With Einstein,” an MPCA film she’ll produce with Brad Krevoy and Jeremy Kramer. Directed by Craig Shapiro, the pic features Presley as a mother whose household includes a talking dog.

Presley also will play a small role in “Mattie,” a black comedy being shot in Ireland. Tim Hutton, Mia Farrow and Terence Stamp star for director Declon Loncy in the film, in which Presley is set as one of several people trying to bump off an unwitting heiress before she figures out she’s inheriting a fortune.

The actress has recently logged guest starring stints on “Melrose Place” and “Touched by an Angel.”

“I’ve been offered a lot of scripts I didn’t want to do, but I read ‘Breakfast With Einstein’ with my 10-year-old son, and he loved it and said he wanted me to do it,” said Presley. Aside from her son, Presley’s screen moves are steered by William Morris agent Scott Henderson and manager Joel Stevens.

NEXT ‘ELLEN’ BOMBSHELL: If “Ellen” stirred that much controversy when Ellen DeGeneres kissed series regular Joely Fisher on screen, there surely will continue to be fireworks in her first romance.

The character’s being played by Lisa Darr, who showed up Wednesday night and will do at least four more. Darr plays a single mother impregnated through non-traditional means, and yes, the characters will kiss.

Darr played the lesbian lover of Paige Turco on “NYPD Blue” last season, and was a regular on short-lived series “Profit” and “Easy Streets,” but it won’t be surprising if this short cycle of episodes gets her more attention. She’s managed by Doug Warner, agented by Mark Scroggs of Paul Kohner.

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