Michael Hoffman has made a deal to direct “Looney Radio,” a film fast coming together for Paramount and Mutual Film Co. Pic is based on a true story about an underachiever who stumbles on an effective form of therapy when he starts a radio program comprising mental patients. It becomes a ratings sensation.
Despite the startling similarities in the storyline, this is not based on Howard Stern, whose own radio exploits were highlighted in the Par comedy “Private Parts.” “Looney Radio” was hatched from a New York Times article about the radio endeavor. Todd Graff, whose credits include “Beautician and the Beast,” has written the script. The film, which originally was titled “Radio Loco,” will be produced by Gary Levinsohn and his Mutual Film Co. partner Mark Gordon. That duo, now producing partners with Centropolis on the Mel Gibson starrer “Patriot,” hopes to get the film into production next year.
Hoffman, who recently directed the Fox Searchlight adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “One Fine Day” and “Restoration,” is repped by ICM.
DEALMAKER TO PRODUCER: Frank Frattaroli, who is leaving his post as an agent at the William Morris Agency at year’s end, has solidified plans to partner with longtime client Stanley Tucci and Beth Alexander in First Cold Press, Tucci’s production company, which has its offices and a first-look deal in the downtown headquarters of USA Films.
Frattaroli, one of the most visible Gotham agents who had one of the best talent lists in town, will finish the year transitioning those actors and directors to other Morris agents before he hangs up his ten-percentery career Dec. 31 to produce movies.
Aside from Tucci, Frattaroli’s client list includes Mira Sorvino, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, Frances McDormand, Sarah Polley, Lili Taylor, Alfred Molina, Mary Louise Parker, Guillermo Del Toro, Mary Harron, Chloe Sevigny and Ian Holm. Frattaroli informed the agency early this fall that he wouldn’t renew his contract.
As Tucci’s agent for the past 10 years, Frattaroli helped transition him from actor-for-hire to director of such acclaimed films as “Big Night.” Working with helmers like Tucci, Del Toro and Harron gave Frattaroli the chance to be involved in films from inception to completion and he decided to stop making deals and make movies instead.
“I am totally excited about partnering with Stanley and Beth at USA Films,” said Frattaroli. “Our relationship has been evolving toward this for the past few years, and is going to result in many high-quality films. Some directed, of course by Stanley, and some directed by others.”
Frattaroli will use his relationships to import new filmmakers and material to First Cold Press.
COHEN’S COL DEAL: Screenwriter Jon Cohen, who from his home in Philadelphia has quietly been writing some of the biggest projects currently percolating in Hollywood, has set up a pricey but untitled pitch at Columbia for a mid six-figure against low seven-figure deal, sources said. Col’s Amy Baer will shepherd the project along with Chuck Roven.
The plot’s a closely guarded secret. Col prevailed in a three-studio bidding situation.
The sale follows by a week Cohen’s signing on to transform the star-spangled siren Wonder Woman into an edgy action film for Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver, who are wooing Sandra Bullock for the job. Elsewhere, Cohen’s had a hand in three of the biggest budget films nearing greenlights at Fox. That includes “Minority Report,” the Fox/DreamWorks pic being rewritten by Scott Frank and still expected to be Steven Spielberg’s next directing project with Tom Cruise and Matt Damon in the starring roles; “Adaptive Ultimate,” a story of a disfigured and handicapped woman injected with a serum that allows her to physically adapt to any situation; and “Riptide,” an Arnold Kopelson-produced actioner at Fox which Rob Bowman (“X-Files”) will direct next year.
Cohen began as a novelist who scored a film deal from Paramount on “A Man in the Window” and from Sony for “Max Lakeman and the Beautiful Stranger.” He then wrote a spec script, “Double Vision,” which was bought by John Davis and Fox, and has been turning out event pics ever since. He’s repped by UTA, which might consider opening an office in the city of brotherly love. Aside from Cohen, the agency reps Philadelphian M. Night Shyamalan, the “Sixth Sense” director/writer who just got $10 million for his next pic “Unbreakable,” and Joe Gangemi, a cheesesteak-eating scribe who’s adapting Stephen King’s “Salem Lot” at Warner Bros. for director P.J. Hogan, and who scripted “Eliza Graves” at Icon for Mike Van Diem to helm.
PRYCE IS RIGHT FOR “LOVE”: While Jonathan Pryce’s recent turns in Infiniti ads and pics like “Stigmata,” “Ronin” and “Tomorrow Never Dies” have him pegged as a heavy or car pitchman, the thesp is going back to his roots as a singer in the P.J. Hogan-directed New Line film “Unconditional Love.” The pic stars Rupert Everett and Kathy Bates as an unlikely pair who try to solve the murder of Everett’s live-in lover, a dashing Tom Jones-like singer named Victor Fox. Pryce will play Fox, and he’ll get to sing 10 to 15 songs which will be heard in various places throughout the movie. Pryce’s vocalizing experience includes his Tony-winning turn in “Miss Saigon,” and playing Juan Peron in the Alan Parker-directed “Evita.” Pryce is repped by Paradigm and U.K.-based agent Victoria Belfrage, and managed by Scott Bankston.