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Ehren Kruger

'Arlington Road' proves path to riches

HOLLYWOOD — “As soon as I got my first check as a writer, I blew town,” says Ehren Kruger, whose ticket out of L.A. and story development was “Arlington Road,” now an upcoming Polygram movie directed by Mark Pellington.

Now a San Francisco resident, Kruger had been an assistant at Fox TV and Sandollar Prods., pounding out scripts in his spare time.

He sold a couple of low-budget monster/thriller telepics to USA Networks, “Mythic” and “Captivity.”

But it wasn’t until he keyed on “Arlington Road” as a political thriller about domestic subversives that Kruger made the wish-fulfillment leap from industry assistant to sought-after screenwriter.

The script won him the 1996 Nicholl Fellowship for screenwriting and was snagged immediately by producer Peter Samuelson, who set it up at Lakeshore Entertainment.

Kruger wrote the piece as a white-knuckle thriller with an ending that harkens back to the 1970s, when plots were never completely resolved and heroes and villains were less easily distinguishable. Pic, which will be released later this year, features Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack as a seemingly normal married couple. Their next-door neighbor, played by Jeff Bridges, is a professor who specializes in terrorism and suspects the pair might be hatching a deadly plot.

Kruger found representation with Paradigm’s Matt Bedrosian and Valerie Phillips — not for “Arlington Road” oddly enough, but for “Mythic.”

“We signed him from another script because we couldn’t believe his voice and we were so impressed with him,” Phillips says.

Picky about the numerous writing assignments and adaptations that have come his way since “Arlington Road” drew attention, Kruger has settled for the time being on “Trail the Dragon,” which he is scripting from a Howard Blum magazine article for Wayne Wang to direct and Lawrence Turman to produce for Propaganda.

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