Phoenix makes big push for thriller ‘Hardcourt’

Deal is scribe Smith's second

Phoenix Pictures has put on a full-court press for “Hardcourt,” a legal thriller by scribe Mark L. Smith.

The spec is the second to come from the North Carolina-based Smith, who last year sold his tyro effort, “The Devil’s Kiss” — a suspenser about a sheriff whose retirement is postponed to train a deputy and catch a serial murderer — to Mel Gibson’s Par-based Icon Prods.

Deal for “Hardcourt” is valued at low six against mid-six figures. Story, said to be in the vein of “Jagged Edge,” follows a prominent young criminal attorney who must defend his old mentor, a college basketball coach under suspicion of having murdered his mistress.

Project will be overseen by Phoenix VP Brad Fischer and development exec Anne Rodman.

Scribe’s perfect record

Smith, repped by Benderspink, has been turning down assignments from studios in favor of working on several spec scripts, an area where his batting average is 1.000 — with three more being taken out by Benderspink in the weeks to come.

He was “discovered” on, an online coverage site now owned by but created and formerly owned by Benderspink.

Phoenix will next release “Basic,” a military thriller with John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson toplining.

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