Collis hip to ‘Strip’

Linson taps tyro helmer for H'w'd music pic

Moving forward with his look at the music-steeped stretch of Sunset Boulevard known as “the Strip,” producer Art Linson has tapped tyro helmer Adam Collis to direct the tentatively titled “Sunset Strip” for Fox 2000.

Robbie Robertson also has come onboard to supervise music for the film, which, though it has not been greenlit, is gearing up for a mid-November start.

Randall Jahnson (“The Mask of Zorro”) penned the screenplay, which is based on Linson’s original idea. Pic takes place in 1971 and tells an “American Graffitti”-like story of young habitues on the Sunset Strip.

Shifting the spotlight

The film focuses not on the rock stars who made names for themselves in the hot clubs along the strip, such as Gazzari’s and The Whisky, but on the people in the audience and those behind the scenes in the music business.

Linson is producing along with his son John under the former’s Fox-based Knickerbocker Films. Knickerbocker operates under a first-look deal at Fox 2000.

While casting is under way for the under-$15 million film, no actors are set at this time.

Collis, who is represented by the William Morris Agency, is a recent USC film school grad whose short film, “Mad Boy, I’ll Blow Your Blues Away, Be Mine,” won the prize for best short film at this year’s Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. That short piqued interest in the young helmer’s talents and served as his calling card to studios and producers around town, including Linson.

“What I saw in his short was a guy who was able to do something serious, but out of that seriousness came great heart and great wit,” Linson told Daily Variety.

Deja vu all over again

The hiring is reminiscent of another Linson-produced pic, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” for which Linson signed the then-unknown Amy Heckerling to direct, based on her short film, “Getting It Over With,” which she made while attending the American Film Institute.

Linson is also producing the Mike Newell-directed “Pushing Tin,” to be released by Fox 2000 in March, starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton. And slated for a possible summer ’99 release, Linson and Ross Bell are producing “Fight Club,” which stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton under David Fincher’s helm.

Additionally, Don McPherson is adapting Richard Preston’s “The Cobra Event” for Linson. Fox paid $3 million to acquire the novel for Linson to produce, and he hopes to have it in production sometime during the next year.

Along with Oliver Stone, Jahnson co-wrote “The Doors,” a pic about one of the bands that regularly played the Strip. He also has written such screenplays as “Tesla,” a Warner Bros.’ vehicle for Robert Zemeckis, and “Flashbacks,” Interscope’s Timothy Leary biopic. He is repped by ICM.

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