Harling lands ‘Ladykillers’

He'll write and helm remake of black comedy

Touchstone Pictures has inked “The First Wives Club” scribe Robert Harling to write and direct a remake of “The Ladykillers,” the 1955 English black comedy which starred Alec Guinness.

Former Fox prexy Tom Jacobson, topper of independent banner Jacobson Co., is producing.

The updated “Ladykillers” will trade the original London setting for the Big Easy — New Orleans. Pic is about an eccentric New Orleans matron who unwittingly rents out rooms in her house to a gang of professional thieves. They plan to use the innocent address as a hideout while they plot a big-ticket heist.

Although the woman susses out the gang’s real plans, the criminals still think she’ll be easily duped. “Then they find out they’re no match for her,” Jacobson said.

Touchstone president Donald DeLine will oversee the project for the studio.

The original “Ladykillers” is one of the famous Ealing comedies made at Ealing Studios during the 1940s and ’50s. Some of the best-remembered include “The Lavender Hill Mob,” “Kind Hearts and Coronets” and “The Man in the White Suit.”

Harling’s previous writing credits include “Soapdish,” “The Evening Star” and “Steel Magnolias,” (based on his play.) Harling also directed “Evening Star.”

Currently, Harling is writing the screenplay “I Married a Witch” for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The project is being produced by Cruise/ Wagner Prods. at Columbia.

Jacobson’s company is in production or post-production on several projects, including “School Slut” for Touchstone and “Mighty Joe Young” for Disney.

Adam Kanter of CAA repped Harling in the deal.

— Dan Cox and Paul Karon

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