If Roach commits to helm, project gets instant green light

This article was corrected on October 26, 2000.

NEW YORK — With numerous offers in front of him as his latest film “Meet the Parents” continues to dominate the box office charts after three weekends, director Jay Roach is in the heavy petting stage with “50 First Kisses,” a romantic comedy scripted by George Wing which was just bought as a spec script by Columbia.

He’s negotiating to direct the film, possibly as his next project. Though for that slot, he’s also considering two David Hollander-scripted Paramount comedies, “Zen of Laundry” and “Becoming Alfred,” as well as a big-screen adaptation of the Douglas Adams cult classic novel “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe,” and the Fox comedy “God Of Cookery.” He’ll likely take the first to assemble a cast.

The success of the Tribeca-produced Universal/DreamWorks comedy “Meet the Parents” has made Roach arguably the biggest catch of top directors who’ve not committed to a pre-strike movie. The hit follows Roach’s past success on “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” and its hit sequel, as well as “Mystery Alaska.” While a Roach-steered Jim Herzfeld-scripted “Meet the Parents” sequel is in the works and a third installment of “Austin Powers” on the distant horizon as collaborator Mike Myers plots the trifecta, Roach is now focusing on whether he can get a film done before next summer.

Days after Col made a quiet low against mid-six figure deal for the George Wing comedy about a man who falls in love with a woman whose short term memory disorder requires him to make her fall in love each day, Roach sparked seriously to the material. The project was brought to the studio by the scribe’s management company, Anonymous, whose execs Steve Golin, Larry Kennar and Scott Bankston will produce, with Col exec Michael Costigan supervising the pic.

Roach was made a formal offer Tuesday evening after a Monday meeting with Col brass, and if he commits, the project becomes an immediate green light. It is another potential positive development for a studio which just greenlit “Ali” on more favorable financial terms than originally expected, and which has been getting positive signs on its upcoming release “Charlie’s Angels,” which preemed in Gotham Tuesday evening.

Roach is repped by ICM’s Nick Reed and Doug Maclaren, managed by Gold-Miller.

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