NEW YORK — “The Score” scorecard has a last minute scratch: Ben Affleck has abruptly dropped out of the film he was skedded to costar in with Robert De Niro for director Frank Oz. Sources said that an offer was quickly put out to Brad Pitt, who is available and looking to work in a commercial picture.
Affleck had no definitive replacement project, but several strong possibles. One is “Cinderella Man,” the Cliff Hollingsworth-scripted pic about a depression-era boxer, is taking shape as a co-production between Universal and Miramax with Billy Bob Thornton a possible director. Affleck is also developing with director Betty Thomas “The Dreyfus Affair,” the Peter Lefcourt novel about a second baseman and shortstop on a major league baseball team who fall in love. Affleck’s repped by CAA.
— Michael Fleming
Scott Free Prods. lays off exex
Scott Free Prods. has laid off four employees, including co-presidents Christopher Dorr and Diane Minter Lewis.
The downsizing comes several months after Scott Free signed a first-look deal with Jerry Bruckheimer Films; it’s believed the move is due to certain redundancies between the two companies and to save costs.
Dorr co-produced Scott Free’s “Clay Pigeons.” Lewis served as associate producer on Ridley Scott’s “G.I. Jane” and as a producer on HBO and Scott Free’s “RKO 281.”
Sources said Dorr and Lewis will continue as producers on “Where the Money Is,” starring Paul Newman, Linda Fiorentino and Dermot Mulroney, while both segue into indie producing on their own.
— Charles Lyons
Permits prevent penthouse parties
There was a big shift this week when three major premieres (“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “The Hurricane” and “Any Given Sunday”) moved their after-parties to the Armand Hammer Museum from the Center West Building’s 23rd-floor Wilshire Boulevard penthouse in Westwood.
The reason for the shift was a radical downsizing in the number of guests the penthouse space was said to be able to legally hold.
Angel City Design prexy Mark Yumkas, who worked on the Dec. 2 “Deuce Bigalow” preem, said the building’s management told him “the capacity was between 1,000 and 1,200 and they would obtain Fire Dept. safety permits.”
During the “Deuce Bigalow” penthouse after-party, however, the Fire Dept. inspector notified organizers that the penthouse space could legally hold only 250. Though there were 600 guests on hand, he allowed the party to continue.
Organizers of the Dec. 8 preem of “Magnolia” learned about the penthouse’s capacity problem at 3 p.m. the day before the premiere. A meeting was arranged with a high-level fire chief, who gave a one-time dispensation allowing 499 guests in the penthouse. But on the night of the event, this still left 300 guests waiting in the lobby to enter as other partygoers exited. Eventually they all got in.
When word got around about the penthouse’s actual legal capacity, there was a rush to the Hammer.
“It would have been easier to jump from the penthouse than it was to re-organize these parties,” said one frazzled organizer. “Trust me.”
Center West management had no comment.
— Bill Higgins