Shana Larsen

'Cigarettes' lights way to studio

HOLLYWOOD — Shana Larsen spent, in her words, “10 years working as an office temp and writing bad novels” before turning to screenwriting and getting a deal for her ensemble drama “200 Cigarettes.”

The Hamptons resident studied painting at the California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia. After graduating she started writing full time, straight off the bat.

It wasn’t until she decided to turn one of her unpublished novels, “Martians,” into a screenplay that her luck began to change. Although it wasn’t made into a film, it did get optioned, and that gave her the confidence to switch media altogether.

“Cigarettes,” which stars Kate Hudson, Jay Mohr, Ben Affleck, Dave Chappelle, Courtney Love and Christina Ricci, takes place on New Year’s Eve, 1981. It’s the semi-autobiographical story of several groups of twentysomethings who are on their way to a big booze-up.

“It’s a relationship-driven story about their desperate struggle to remain sane and find personal happiness,” Larsen says.

“It’ll be juicy and fun, but a lot better than real life,” she adds.

“Cigarettes” originally was optioned by the now-defunct film company WMG, which attached director Risa Bramon Garcia. Following WMG’s demise, Dogstar Films’ Betsy Beers, who’s producing “Cigarettes” together with David Gale, took the $11 million pic to Viacom-owned MTV Prods., which brought in Paramount Pictures and, subsequently, foreign sales company Lakeshore Entertainment.

Larsen, who says she has no interest in directing but would like to produce, now is scripting two projects for New Line Cinema. She’s doing a rewrite of the comedy “Switcheroo,” based on the novel by Olivia Goldsmith, and she has set up an English-lingo remake of the Italian comedy “Sentimental Maniacs” at the studio.

Larsen is repped by Lucy Stille at Paradigm.

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