Damon, Affleck pick ‘Summer’

Miramax will fund contest winner Jones

HOLLYWOOD — Project Greenlight, the online screenwriting contest hosted by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s entertainment Netco LivePlanet, Miramax and HBO, has selected Pete Jones as its winner for his script “Stolen Summer.”

Miramax Films will provide Jones with a $1 million budget to direct and produce his screenplay. At the same time, Miramax Television will document the making of the movie for a 13-episode series slated to air on HBO in early 2002.

Miramax Films will distrib the pic, with a tentative theatrical release set for early 2002. Pre-production on the pic began Thursday. No actors are attached to the project.

Chosen from 7,000 entries

Project Greenlight, which bowed last September, asked amateur screenwriters to submit original screenplays electronically at Projectgreenlight.com. The contest received 7,000 submissions. Authors of the 250 highest-rated entries then were asked to submit video bios. Ten semi-finalists were chosen and given equipment to film a short scene from his or her script.

After screening those scenes, three finalists were interviewed and the final winner was selected Wednesday by Affleck and Damon; LivePlanet co-founder and CEO Chris Moore, who co-produced “Good Will Hunting”; and Billy Campbell, prexy of Miramax TV. All will exec produce the pic and television series.

Miramax Films co-president of production Meryl Poster and exec veep of production Jon Gordon also participated in the selection.

Live on ‘Leno’

Although LivePlanet said it wanted to keep a tight lid on who won the contest, Affleck paraded Jones out on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” Wednesday night.

Jones, a 31-year-old Chicago native, has been working as a production assistant since moving to Los Angeles three years ago.

Although picking a single winner was a difficult decision, “Pete’s script was the most emotionally affecting” and “resonated with people,” Affleck said during a teleconference Thursday morning. Jones’ script revolves around an Irish Catholic boy and his Jewish friend who is dying of cancer.

During the teleconference, Damon called the contest a “meritocracy” that finds talented writers outside of the traditional Hollywood system and gives them an opportunity to make a film. Citing his own experience with “Good Will Hunting,” Damon said, “We had a good script and people weren’t necessarily receptive to it. And we had an agent.”

Damon said LivePlanet is tentatively planning to hold another contest next year and hopes to receive more submissions from women and people of color.

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