Artisan tunes up Shaggs

Cruise shingle also has pic plans for band

NEW YORK — A bizarre chapter in the history of rock ‘n’ roll has spawned the latest studio turf war.

Artisan has just landed the life rights to the history of the Shaggs, the 1960s pop trio whose opus, “Philosophy of the World,” was dubbed “maybe the worst rock album ever made” by the New York Times. The band, composed of three shy New Hampshire sisters, Dorothy, Helen and Betty Wiggins, with no musical ability were thrust into the spotlight by a domineering father, and have become a cult sensation.

Indeed, the Wiggins sisters have other fans in Hollywood. Last October, Susan Orleans’ New Yorker article, “Meet the Shaggs,” was optioned by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner through their Paramount shingle, C/W Prods.

Artisan acquisitions and production veep Rachel Cohen, who brought in the project and will oversee its development and production, told Daily Variety the family was won over by the studio’s plans to move quickly on the project.

“We don’t buy projects to put them on the shelf,” she said.

Journo helmer

Artisan has tapped Katherine Dieckmann, a widely published journalist who helmed the indie feature “A Good Baby,” to write and direct the Shaggs project. Dieckmann was also the original director of the Nickelodeon series “The Adventures of Pete & Pete.”

“I wanted to have someone (who the Shaggs) felt comfortable opening up to,” Cohen said. “This will be research-heavy. The fact that (Dieckmann’s) a journalist is a big help.”

The studio was repped by legal and business affairs veep Erin Austin. The Wiggins family was repped by lawyers Sandra Forman and Scott LaPointe. Dieckmann was repped by Gersh’s Frank Wuliger.

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