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Fox, Maverick corral Nicks ‘Rodeo’ deal

Helmer nabs low-seven figures as part of Sony pact

Heading off the hoofbeats of several other studios, 20th Century Fox has made a deal with Maverick Entertainment for “Rodeo Queen,” a film to be developed as a directing vehicle for Dewey Nicks.

“Slackers,” the directing debut of Nicks, a prominent still photographer, will be released in January by Screen Gems.

Maverick’s Gary Ventimiglia moved quickly to secure rights last month to “Rodeo Queen” by optioning a Texas Monthly article about four young women competing for the title of Rodeo Queen of Llano, Texas.

While a relative newcomer, Nicks will be paid a low seven-figure salary to direct the pic. That standard was set when Sony attached him to its purchase of the Eric Eisner script “Of God and Country Club” when the studio acquired “Slackers” following the demise of that film’s financier, Destination Films.

When Ventimiglia heard that Nicks would have been attached to another suitor’s bid, he lassoed the director, a task made easier given that Ventimiglia’s Maverick colleague, Mark Morgan, exec produced “Slackers,” Nicks’ much-buzzed-about film that stars Devon Sawa, James King and Jason Schwartzman.

Maverick’s Ventimiglia and Guy Oseary will produce, with Morgan exec producing with Cutting Edge Entertainment’s David Glasser and Bob Yari. Pic’s a co-production of Maverick and Cutting Edge.

Nicks, who has photographed celebrities for such magazines as GQ, Rolling Stone, Vogue and Vanity Fair, compiled the best of those shots in the book “Kustom,” published last fall. His interest in “Rodeo Queen” came from a print campaign he shot to introduce an underwear line by Tommy Hilfiger, which was done in Austin, Texas, and featured locals clad in their skivvies.

“This is such a strong piece of nostalgic American culture, and with Madonna at the forefront, people are rediscovering this style of rodeo in fashion,” Nicks said. “… The rodeo queen is like being prom queen, valedictorian and city council candidate all rolled into one. … And these are the kinds of towns which come to life when the rodeo arrives.

“The rodeo is set up to celebrate the athleticism of men, and this is really the only part that has to do with women, not counting the buckle bunnies, who are like groupies chasing the cowboys,” Nicks said.

Nicks is repped by WMA and 3 Arts. Fox exec Emma Watts and prexy Hutch Parker will oversee the film.

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