WB digs ‘Burial’ helmer

Grazer, Saxon, Shriver to shepherd pic

Director Ron Howard is putting on his dark suit for the Doug Wright script “The Burial” for Warner Bros. Pictures.

His deal isn’t done yet, but pic has been on the fast track since the “Quills” scribe Wright sold the script to the studio in June (Daily Variety, June 6). Wright will likely pen a rewrite.

Imagine Entertainment chairman Brian Grazer, Howard’s long-time producing partner at their Universal Pictures-based shingle, will produce for Warners with producers Ed Saxon and Robert Shriver, who initially set up project.

“Burial” tells the true story of Willie Gary, a successful and passionate black personal-injury lawyer from Mississippi. He was asked to take on the case of Jeremiah O’Keefe, the owner of a local funeral home chain who claimed he had been swindled by a major funeral parlor conglomerate. With the cooperation of O’Keefe’s lawyer — at the time, an admitted racist — Gary won $260 million for the plaintiff.

Wright adapted “The Burial” from a New Yorker piece of the same name by Jonathan Harr, who also wrote the book “A Civil Action.”

Pic is being overseen at the studio by senior VP production Kevin McCormick.

Howard, repped by CAA, most recently finished shooting the U/Imagine co-prod “A Beautiful Mind,” starring Russell Crowe. The story of John Forbes Nash Jr., a math prodigy who overcame years of suffering through schizophrenia to win the Nobel Prize, will receive a limited Oscar-qualifying run Dec. 26. and will go wide Jan. 4, 2002.

Saxon most recently produced the Spike Jonze pic “Adaptation” for Columbia Pictures. Shriver was a producer on James Cameron’s 1994 “True Lies.”

Wright, who is repped by ICM, previously adapted “Quills” from his own play.

“The Burial” was a finalist for the 2000 National Magazine Award.

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