Strike threat lights fire under Rudin

'Deception' among pics slated for pre-spring prod'n

Producer Scott Rudin’s Paramount-based company may mobilize as many as six films for production prior to spring — a cutoff mandated by the threats of SAG and WGA strikes.

The projects include the following:

  • “The Duke of Deception,” with Steve Zaillian lined up to direct. Warren Beatty is said to be in advanced talks to star;

  • “Freedomland,” based on Richard Price’s 1998 novel;

  • “The Hours,” with Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow reportedly in talks to star (Daily Variety, Sept. 8). Script is a David Hare adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s 1988 novel;

  • “Marci X,” based on a script by Paul Rudnick;

  • “Changing Lanes,” with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson;

  • “Zoolander,” starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell and directed by Stiller. Project had been stalled for more than a year.

Latter three pics appear to be closest to the front burner. “Zoolander” is already shooting.

Most of these films will receive some form of co-financing, with the studio taking the lead in arranging for outside funding.

Roadshow funding

“Zoolander” boasts an intriguing financial wrinkle. Warner Bros. equity partner Village Roadshow has agreed to help fund the pic, which is believed to be its first foray into Par territory. Par’s corporate cousin VH1 is also producing and financing.

Rudin’s fecundity is all the more remarkable considering that he’s also making a film at Disney, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” to be directed by Wes Anderson, and is mounting three plays in London. (Rudin has become one of the theater’s busiest producers since moving to New York a decade ago.)

It’s understood that Rudin renewed his contract this year and has some six years left to go at the studio.

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