Slavin debuts as helmer in Bloomberg's production

Laura Dern, William H. Macy and David Paymer will star in the independent feature “Focus,” an adaptation of playwright Arthur Miller’s novel of the same name.

Drama is the feature directing debut of prominent commercials director and photographer Neal Slavin and the producing debut of media entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg, the executive producer who personally financed the project.

Published in 1945 and set during the waning months of WWII, “Focus” is the story of a man (Macy) and his wife (Dern) who are mistakenly identified as Jews by their anti-Semitic Brooklyn neighbors. Suddenly the victims of religious and racial persecution, they find themselves aligned with a local Jewish immigrant (Paymer) in a struggle for dignity and survival.

Currently in production, “Focus” was adapted by Kendrew Lascelles. Robert A. Miller (“The Crucible”) produces.

Slavin optioned the film rights from Miller in the mid-1990s and subsequently approached Bloomberg, who agreed to finance the project’s development.

“Michael believed in the message in Mr. Miller’s novel and believes in our vision for it as a film,” said Slavin.

Dern, who was nominated for a best actress Academy Award for “Rambling Rose,” most recently appeared in the Oscar-nominated “October Sky” and will next be seen in “Daddy and Them” and Robert Altman’s “Dr. T and the Women.”

Macy, who received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in “Fargo,” has recently appeared in “Magnolia,” “Happy, Texas,” and “Pleasantville.” He will next be seen in David Mamet’s “State and Main.”

Paymer, who earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in “Mr. Saturday Night,” has appeared in such recent films as “The Hurricane,” “Mumford,” “Nixon,” “The American President” and “Quiz Show.” Paymer next co-stars in “Bounce,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck, as well as “State and Main.”

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