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Cage, Hanson in ‘Family’ way

Thesp and helmer in talks for romantic comedy

NEW YORK — Nicolas Cage is negotiating to star in the Beacon Communications romantic comedy “Family Man,” with “L.A. Confidential” helmer Curtis Hanson in talks to direct, sources said.

The film, scripted by the team of David Diamond and David Weissman, now verges on becoming yet another in a string of event-caliber films with A-list stars which Beacon has put together under its output deal with Universal.

Cage sparked to the script after Warner Bros. temporarily grounded “Superman Lives,” and Hanson has been besieged with directing offers after his breakout work in the noir crime drama “L.A. Confidential.” Hanson has resisted offers from every studio, but sources said that he is near a commitment on “Family Man.”

A touch of ‘Wonderful’

The film has some of the out-of-body qualities of Cage’s last hit, the Brad Silberling-directed “City of Angels,” and has a touch of “It’s a Wonderful Life” thrown in for good measure.

Cage plays a Gotham-based investment banker who has forsaken love for his career. While it’s brought him fortune, it’s turned him into a shark, and his life is empty as a result. One day, he wakes up to find himself living the life he would have enjoyed had he married his college sweetheart, complete with a home in the burbs and kids.

“Dead” comes first

Beacon’s hope is for Cage to join Hanson in January, as soon as he completes starring for Martin Scorsese in “Bringing Out the Dead.” The paramedic drama is adapted by Paul Schrader from Joseph Connelly’s novel, with Scott Rudin producing in a Paramount/Touchstone co-production.

WB’s postponement of “Superman Lives” might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to Cage, who is now near deals to work with two top directors, Scorsese and Hanson, with the likelihood that he can still don the letter “S” on his chest sometime next year for director Tim Burton.

WB has plenty of incentive to get Cage in that spandex suit: namely, a pay-or-play deal worth $20 million. Of course, that commitment could be switched to another WB pic, and the studio recently offered him such projects as “I Am Legend” and “Three Kings.” David O. Russell will direct the latter, based on a John Ridley script.

Talking turkey

“Family Man” is being financed and produced by Beacon under chairman Armyan Bernstein, and Universal is targeting a Thanksgiving 1999 release date, sources said. The producers are Jonathan Shestack, Alan Riche, Howard Rosenman and Tony Ludwig. Shestack, a Beacon exec, brought in the project as a pitch, the same way Beacon developed its biggest hit to date, “Air Force One.”

For Bernstein’s Beacon, the Cage/Hanson convergence enhances a slate of star-studded films that some studios would be hard pressed to match and one that could single-handedly end the slump at Universal. That includes the Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer “End of Days”; the baseball drama “Love of the Game,” which Kevin Costner will topline; the Cuban missile crisis drama “13 Days,” which will also star Costner; a biopic on boxer Hurricane Rubin Carter, which will star Denzel Washington for director Norman Jewison; and the Robert Redford starrer “Spy Game.”

Cage is repped by CAA and managed by Brillstein-Grey, and Hanson is repped by UTA and attorney Tom Hansen of Hansen Jacobson Teller & Hoberman.

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