Spacey nears ‘Beauty’ deal

Pic marks Mendes' helming bow

NEW YORK — Kevin Spacey is in negotiations to star in “American Beauty,” the DreamWorks black comedy scripted by Alan Ball that marks the film-directing debut of Sam Mendes.

Mendes helmed the Broadway revival of “Cabaret” and opens “The Blue Room” in London with Nicole Kidman next week.

The film, which begins shooting Dec. 14 in Los Angeles, is being produced by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen of the Jinks/Cohen Co., with Glenn Williamson the DreamWorks exec on the project.

Spacey will play a 42-year-old man who decides to liberate himself from a boring job and a loveless marriage. While his daughter falls for a strange boy who has moved next door, Spacey’s character transforms himself into a buff, confident hunk — but the lives of those around him unravel, with tragic consequences.

Ireland-bound

As Mendes prepares for his London stage opening, Spacey is just back from a critically acclaimed London run in “The Iceman Cometh,” with negotiations ongoing for the play to stage on Broadway.

Spacey is about to head to Ireland to star in “Ordinary Decent Criminal,” a fictional film based on Irish gangster Martin Cahill, who led something of a Robin Hood life during the ’70s and ’80s. The film, directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan, co-stars Linda Fiorentino, and is a coproduction between Spacey’s Trigger Street Prods. and Mel Gibson’s Icon.

Spacey would follow that film with “American Beauty.” The actor is repped by William Morris’ Brian Gersh, managed by Joanne Horowitz and lawyered by Doug Stone.

The project is one of four fast-tracked movies that producers Jinks and Cohen set up at DreamWorks since forming their partnership in January. The others are “Carrier,” a Charles Evered-scripted action film that takes place aboard an aircraft carrier on its final voyage; “Calling All Monsters,” a Mark Kruger-scripted thriller set in the world of interactive videogames; and “The Napoleon of Crime,” a Doug Wright-scripted adaptation of a nonfiction crime tale by Ben Macintyre.

From the hip

“Beauty” is the first feature script by Ball, who wrote the WPA play “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” and ran both “Grace Under Fire” and “Cybill.” Since the script began circulating in Hollywood, he has found much success as a script doctor.

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