Wheeler wheels out trio of feature deals

Scribe penning 'Pierre' with Cusack

Scribe Bill Wheeler (“The Prime Gig”) will adapt the Ira Berkow novel “The Man Who Robbed the Pierre” for Image Movers, “The Hoax” for Mutual Film Corp. and a biopic about blackjack legend Ken Uston for producer Casey Silver.

Wheeler is working on “Pierre” along with John Cusack and Cusack’s producing partners, the scribes D.V. DeVincentis and Steve Pink (“Grosse Pointe Blank”), who will all serve as producers on the project. Cusack at one point had discussed an adaptation with DeVincentis and Pink, but now has turned to Wheeler (Daily Variety, June 22, 1999).

Cusack and Woody Allen are still attached to star, though no deals are even near set.

Producers are also Image Movers Robert Zemeckis, Jack Raptke and Steve Starkey via their DreamWorks-based shingle. Jennifer Perini is overseeing the script for the shingle.

“Pierre” centers on the elaborate heist that took place on New Year’s Eve, 1972, at Gotham’s Pierre Hotel.

Irving’s exploits

Based on material by Clifford Irving, who penned a fake autobiography of Howard Hughes and almost got away with it, “Hoax” centers on Irving’s exploits. Pic will be produced by Mutual partners Gary Levinsohn and Mark Gordon and Joshua D. Maurer of City Entertainment.

The untitled Ken Uston project will stem from a pitch Wheeler sold to Silver’s Universal-based Gone Fishin’ Prods.

A true-life story, the Uston project retells the tale of a scientifically educated man who figures out how consistently to count cards and win at blackjack. Casinos seek to prevent him from card counting, until he takes his case to the Supreme Court and wins a battle to legalize card counting. Story ends with Uston’s mysterious death.

“The Prime Gig” is set to be released by Fine Line Features in January. Pic stars Ed Harris, Vince Vaughn and was helmed by legit director Gregory Mosher in his feature debut.

Wheeler is repped by UTA and attorney Alan Wertheimer at Armstrong, Hirsch, Jakoway, Tyerman & Wertheimer. Cusack is repped by the William Morris Agency.

This article was corrected on Sept. 28, 2000.

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