Ciardi, Gray, Wertlieb to produce pic

Continuing its buying spree, New Line Cinema has secured screen rights to Coerte Felske’s Hollywood satire “Word,” for Felske and Scott Rosenberg (“Con Air”) to turn into a feature.

Bedlam Pictures’ Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray and Stan Wertlieb will produce the pic, which follows a struggling screenwriter who agrees to procure beautiful women for a studio head in order to further his career. Michael Gruber will exec produce.

Like such tomes as Michael Tolkin’s “The Player” and Peter Farrelly’s “The Comedy Writer,” “Word” (published last November) deals with how idealistic writers and filmmakers deal with the sleaze, hustle and deception in Hollywood.

New Line Prods. president Michael De Luca and creative exec Carolyn Manetti will oversee the project for the studio.

New Line on Tuesday picked up rights to Victoria Strouse’s “Just Like a Woman” (Daily Variety, June 16).

While noting that Hollywood-themed pics generally don’t spark at the box office, De Luca said he thinks “Word” had greater potential. “Too many Hollywood stories are so inside that audiences don’t understand the jeopardy the characters are experiencing,” he said. “This is not one of those films. This is a universal story about how far people will go to get ahead and how integrity can be compromised.”

Ciardi, Gray and Wertlieb are also producing the Touchstone teen comedy “The New Guy,” the directorial debut of Ed Decter (co-writer of “There’s Something About Mary”).

“Word” marks a change of pace for Rosenberg. He last wrote the grunge drama “A Leonard Cohen Afterworld” for New Line, which agent-turned-producer Gruber is exec producing. His other credits include film noir “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead,” drama “Beautiful Girls” and horror thriller “Disturbing Behavior.” He is penning Disney’s forthcoming Nicolas Cage vehicle “Gone in 60 Seconds.”

New Line also has Felske’s first novel, comedy-drama “The Shallow Man,” in development, from Felske’s screenplay.

William Morris Agency repped Felske in the negotiations and ICM repped Bedlam and Rosenberg.

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