Keep ‘Eyes’ on Lopez

Thesp taking creative interest in pic

After a lengthy courtship between Jennifer Lopez and the producers of the Luis Mandoki-directed project “Angel Eyes,” the star is once more near a deal to topline in the romantic thriller for Franchise Pictures and the Canton Co. — this time for $7.5 million.

The road from early negotiations in June to this point has been rocky: The “Out of Sight” star reportedly started considering other options late last month when Warner Bros. balked at her $8 million asking price, ponying up only $7 million.

Even though less than $1 million stood between the parties in the end, sources said Warners decided to let Elie Samaha and his Franchise Pictures come on board as a producer and pay for development and production, choosing instead to become the film’s distrib. Pic’s budget is said to be in the low $30 million range.

Creative concerns

Other sources close to the deal contended that, notwithstanding the financial tussle, the main issue for Lopez was always a creative one, and the fact that she’s now back in negotiations is due largely to what was termed significant improvements in the script. Lopez is also said to be eyeing the New Line project “Mi Corazon” as a possible starring vehicle.

Samaha, who now has his own money on the table, broke the previously roadblocked negotiations Monday by making Lopez this most recent offer to star in the pic, which WB and producer Mark Canton are eyeing for an early spring start. Exec VP Rob Guralnick is shepherding the project for the studio.

ICM, which reps Lopez, had no comment, though her reps are said to have announced internally that the thesp was once more committed to the picture.

Gerald DiPego (“Phenomenon”) penned the story of a female police officer working through a history of sexual abuse by befriending a man coming to grips with the death of his wife and son.

Mandoki, who most recently helmed “Message in a Bottle” for WB, is repped by Endeavor; DiPego, who wrote that script, is repped by BKWU.

(Claude Brodesser and Nick Madigan contributed to this report.)

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