HOLLYWOOD –Steven Spielberg has tapped scribe Ron Bass to write the screenplay for his next film, “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
The collaboration has been in the works for some time, but never formally confirmed by Columbia Pictures, which is financing and distributing “Geisha.”
Bass, who has an overall deal with Sony via his Predawn Prods. banner, already is hard at work adapting Arthur Golden’s epic novel into a script.
“Even before Steven (Spielberg) came on board I wanted to be the guy who wrote this,” Bass told Daily Variety. “With him directing, it became that much more attractive.”
“Geisha” tells the story of Nitta Sayuri, a nine-year-old girl sold into slavery in Kyoto in 1929, who grows up to become one of Japan’s most renowned geishas. Last week (Daily Variety, Sept. 3) Spielberg cast unknown actresses Rika Okamoto and Julyana Soelistyo in the pic’s lead roles.
Red Wagon Prods.’ Douglas Wick, Spielberg, Ian Bryce and Bonnie Curtis are producing “Geisha,” and pic is due to begin shooting in the first quarter of 1999 in Japan. Unlike his last outing with Sony, “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” Bass will not have a producing role on the pic.
“Ron Bass is uniquely suited for adaptation,” commented Wick. “He has a deep affection for other writers’ creativity, and an ample amount of his own.” Golden’s novel, which is written in the form of a memoir with WWII as a backdrop, details the secret geisha existence.
The prolific writer’s next release is the romantic drama “What Dreams May Come,” starring Robin Williams and directed by Vincent Ward. Polygram will release it on Oct. 2.
Meanwhile, Jon Amiel’s “Entrapment,” starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, is in production for Twentieth Century Fox, and the Demi Moore-starrer “Passion of Mind” is in pre-production for Lakeshore Entertainment and Paramount.
Additionally, “Shine” director Scott Hicks’ new pic, “Snow Falling on Cedars,” also penned by Bass, is scheduled for release by Universal next February. Bass’ other credits include “Black Widow,” “Rain Man,” “Dangerous Minds,” “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” He is repped by CAA.