U, helmer adapt TV classic for bigscreen

Joining the recent spate of classic TV series-turned-features, Universal Pictures and Michael Mann will give bigscreen treatment to the seminal ’80s cop series “Miami Vice.”

Film will be creatively steered by the man who gave the series a look and style that made it a cultural touchstone of the decade. Mann, who exec produced the series before moving on to become helmer of films including “The Insider,” “Heat” and “Ali,” will write the film script and produce with Forward Pass partner Sandy Climan. Series creator Anthony Yerkovich will exec produce. Once he completes the script, the CAA-repped Mann will decide whether to direct. It would become one of several next projects he’s zeroing in on, with other contenders including an Eric Roth-scripted Western, a sci-fi project, an espionage thriller and a David Self-scripted adaptation of the Spartan epic “Gates of Fire.”

Like another series-to-movie transformation, “Hawaii Five-O,” “Miami Vice” need only retain a geographical location and theme song, but is not dependent on replicating iconic characters in the same way Paramount’s “Honeymooners” remake is. Mann and U can exploit a branded title that portends a big opening weekend, even while making a film that is not meant as a trip down memory lane. Mann’s goal is not to prompt baby boomers to dust off their pastel suits, go sockless or replicate fashion trends set by the show. Rather, he will look to create a contemporary crime detective story set in Miami. The series, which was a core part of a Brandon Tartikoff-led resurgence of NBC, revolved around detectives Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas). They were dashing but troubled undercover vice cops who wore designer duds, drove the coolest cars and boats, romanced gorgeous women as they collared drug dealers.

Defined by movie-quality cinematography and a Jann Hammer-created synthesizer background, “Vice” proved a hatching ground for talent like Bruce Willis, Chris Rock, Liam Neeson and Dennis Farina, the latter of whom went on to topline Mann’s series “Crime Story.” Mann and Climan just supervised the pilot of an untitled series for CBS revolving around the robbery/homicide division of the LAPD, toplined by Mann’s “Heat” star Tom Sizemore.

MORE NOIR FOR HANSON: After successfully mining the bookshelves for “L.A. Confidential” and “Wonder Boys,” director Curtis Hanson has gone back to the well with his Deuce Three partner Carol Fenelon. They’ve optioned a series of four books by George P. Pelecanos revolving around the D.C.-based private detective Derek Strange, a 50ish African American whose cases usually involve the disenfranchised who reside in the beltway and are set upon by drug dealers and other criminal types. Pelecanos has already written two books in the series for LittleBrown, “Right As Rain” and “Hell To Pay,” and he’ll do two more that are part of an option deal worked out between the author’s WMA reps and Hanson’s UTA reps. They’ll develop the properties before taking them to a studio.

LYNE FAITHFUL TO PASSION PIC: Diane Lane’s performance in “Unfaithful” and director Adrian Lyne’s ending shift were dominant conversational themes of a Gotham post-premiere party thrown by Fox at the 21 Club Monday. Lyne said he made the right choice in selecting the most ambiguous of four climax options tested by a studio unsure of how to decide the moral dilemma faced by a philandering wife (Lane) and her husband (Richard Gere). It was an easier process than Lyne had with “Fatal Attraction,” a film that originally ended with Glenn Close committing suicide with a knife bearing the fingerprints of the married man she stalked (Michael Douglas). Lyne instead turned Close into a deranged attacker who’s gunned down by the man’s wife. It pleased the director and audiences, if not feminists. “The problem with ending my films is that it is never a case of black and white, it is all grays,” Lyne said. “I feel like a wrestler in the ring, trying to get a chokehold over these moral dilemmas. The original ‘Fatal Attraction’ felt flat and what we chose was much better. Here, the French film (upon which “Unfaithful” is based) had an ambiguous ending that I liked and the other ending felt pedantic, like we were moralizing.” Lyne hopes the film gets crowds talking, and creates momentum so that he can finally direct his dream pic, the David Rayfield-scripted “Silence.” Like “Unfaithful,” he said the film works only if he gets a great performance out of his actress. “It’s an interracial love story during the race riots in Chicago in 1968, and a love affair between total opposites,” he said. “One is a middle-aged white doctor in his 50s, the other a young black girl who’s a hooker, and is mute. I have been at it 12 years, and always been more enthusiastic about it than the studios. Jack Lemmon, Sean Connery and Michael Caine all were aboard, and Diana Ross once wanted badly to do it. I like to go fallow after a film, maybe I’m getting lazy. I’d have to shoot in the brutal winter in Chicago, and not spend much money. But if I can get Halle Berry…”

KOEPP-ING TRACK OF FRANCHISES Lost in the record opening weekend of “Spider-Man” is the fact that it establishes David Koepp as a leading scripter of film franchises, having hatched “Jurassic Park,” “Lost World,” and “Mission: Impossible.” Even the Koepp-scripted “Panic Room” is on course to do $100 million domestically. Endeavor recently brokered a deal for him to adapt and direct for Sony Stephen King’s “Two Past Midnight: Secret Window, Secret Garden.”

HBO RE-GATHERS TEAM FOR “UMBRIA”: HBO has greenlit an adaptation of William Trevor’s novel “My House in Umbria,” and has reteamed “The Gathering Storm” duo of director Richard Loncraine and scribe Hugh Whitemore. Maggie Smith is set to star as a former madam-turned bed and breakfast owner in Umbria, who is riding on a train that explodes and invites the survivors to convalesce at her B&B. Ann Wingate is producing, and Frank Doelger is exec producer. Hotchkiss & Associates, repping Sterling Lord and London-based lit agency PFD, is shopping Trevor’s new novel, “The Story of Lucy Gault.”

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