Everett ready to serve; HBO’s swing shift

Paramount and producer Donald DeLine will develop a film vehicle for Rupert Everett, playing an English lord who loses his fortune and is forced to serve as butler for a rich family.

The concept is inspired by the Ian Ross memoir “Servile on Sunset,” which Everett found and Par has acquired. The studio has set screenwriter John Bernstein (who recently wrote the Minnie Driver vehicle “Beautiful,” which Sally Field is poised to direct).

While Ross’s book focused on his story of Beverly Hills servitude, the film will use that fish-out-of-water concept for a comedy that will be set in a locale like Texas.

Everett will play a shallow, pampered elitist who finds worth in his life through being forced to serve a dysfunctional, newly monied family. It’s envisioned as a cross between “My Man Godfrey” and “Mary Poppins.”

Several studios chased the property when Everett showed interest, but the actor aligned with Par-based DeLine, whom he met when the producer was Touchstone Pictures prexy and Everett was writing “Martha and Arthur.” The actor hatched the latter as a comic vehicle for himself and Julia Roberts after they meshed so well in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” DeLine signed a producing deal with Paramount last year and Everett made the deal there.

Everett has been acting in a slew of upcoming films. He will next be seen in Miramax’s “An Ideal Husband,” the Michael Hoffman-directed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for Fox Searchlight, and Disney’s “The Real Inspector Gadget.” He’s next expected to star with Madonna in the John Schlesinger-directed comedy “The Next Best Thing,” which Par and Lakeshore expect to get underway this year.

Everett is repped by ICM’s Nick Styne and Elaine Goldsmith Thomas and managed by Marc Epstein. ICM’s Richard Feldman handled the rights deals.

HBO STOCKS MATERIAL: HBO is getting bullish on the material market with deals about the king of swing dance, and a man suffering from mood swings.

The pay cabler is near a deal to buy “Gotta Dance,” an Esquire article about the rebirth of swing-dance guru Frankie Manning. HBO is also in talks to acquire “Electroboy,” a proposal for Andy Behrman’s semi-humorous memoir of being manic depressive.

Manning was one of the foremost swing dancers, who entertained crown heads of Europe and appeared in many movies. But after fighting in WWII, he returned to find that the word “swing” was only used at the playground, and that his skills were obsolete. Manning became a postman for 30 year. With the swing revival, Manning suddenly became hot again and reclaimed his stature as the foremost swing proponent — at age 84. Brillstein-Grey is handling the rights. In “Electroboy,” Behrman writes about the wild and crazy adventures his manic depression got him into, some of which he’s written about for magazines. He’s repped by ICM.

CURIOUS CASE OF GEORGE: The primary goal for a true punk rocker is to agitate even if you have to litigate. George Tabb, better known in the mosh pits as Furious George, has just survived a summary judgment claim in his attempt to trademark his stage name, which is being opposed by Houghton Mifflin on behalf of its sound-alike simian Curious George. Houghton Mifflin wants to protect a property it built up over 50 years, one that Imagine and Universal plan to turn into a $100 million live-action film.

The punk rocker said he only tried to copyright his moniker after being told that Peter Berg (“Very Bad Things”) was writing a script with the same name and that if he didn’t register, Tabb’s band couldn’t release albums under the name it has been using for years.

Said Tabb: “As a kid, everybody called me Furious George, even as I was being beaten up regularly by the other kids.”

Now he’s in fights with a publishing conglom. “You can’t believe the paperwork they’re throwing at me, telling me how evil I am and how I’m ruining their little monkey. My band made about $400 last year total.”

Tabb’s Gotham-based attorney, Andrew Krents, said he’ll argue before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that his client is exercising free speech and the right to parody, and that nobody will confuse the two different entities.

“We can make some law here in a high-profile way,” Krents predicted. “George isn’t infringing on a trademark. We’re not trying to register the image of the monkey.”

Tabb’s band will appear in Spike Lee’s upcoming film “Summer of Sam” performing “Hello From the Gutter.” Many of the lyrics came from letters from mass murderer David Berkowitz to columnist Jimmy Breslin during the Son of Sam murder spree.

“We might be the first band ever to co-write a song with a serial killer,” said Tabb, who may not have heard of the Beach Boys, who recorded “Never Learn Not to Love,” a 1969 song Dennis Wilson co-wrote with Charles Manson. “Fortunately, I don’t think there will be any trouble if the song becomes a hit because of the Son of Sam Law, written specifically for Berkowitz, so he couldn’t make money off his murders. Punk rock is all about irony, and that might be the most ironic thing I’ve ever heard,” said the Furious One.

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