Eye oiling up ‘Enron’

Spheeris to helm telepic; Dennehy in talks

Penelope Spheeris (“Wayne’s World”) will direct and “Liar, Liar” co-writer Stephen Mazur will pen “The Crooked E: The Inside Story of Enron,” while Brian Dennehy is negotiating to join the cast of the CBS telepic.

Pic, targeted for the 2002-03 season, is based on the upcoming book “Anatomy of Greed” by Brian Cruver, who started working as an Enron trader on April Fool’s Day 2001 by accident. (The human resources department apparently called in the wrong candidate.) Cruver went on to witness the collapse firsthand.

Dennehy would play Mr. Blue, who in both the book and the movie represents a compilation of several real-life top-level Enron execs.

Robert Greenwald (“Steal This Movie”) and Alys Shanti (“Redeemer”) are the executive producers for Robert Greenwald Prods. Pic was announced in May as part of the Eye’s overall longform slate for next season (Daily Variety, May 16).

Shanti said the book, which is expected to be the first about Enron to hit the shelves, is written with a sense of humor. It is “shocking, it’s funny, and it’s horrifying,” she said.

Shanti called Spheeris a “legendary director” who was at the top of the list of those considered for the pic.

Tragedy, satire

“Our (project) is both a drama and a satire,” Shanti told Daily Variety. “We treat the tragic elements of the crash of Enron very seriously and at the same time we’re going to dramatize the satirical aspects of Enron culture. Penelope’s body of work reflects the ability to do both.”

Spheeris made her directorial debut with punk rock scene documentary “The Decline of Western Civilization” in 1981. Later came fiction films such as “Suburbia” and “Dudes,” and she also followed up her original doc with “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years.”

She also worked as a story editor on TV series “Roseanne” and helped create the TV action spoof “Danger Theatre.”

In addition, she directed 1994 feature “The Little Rascals,” which Mazur co-wrote. Mazur’s credits also include the feature pic “Heartbreakers,” which he co-wrote.

Dennehy most recently appeared in the feature “Stolen Summer” and the HBO series “Project Greenlight,” which chronicled the film’s production. The vet actor also starred as Bobby Knight in ESPN’s first telepic, “A Season on the Brink,” and starred in the short-lived NBC laffer “The Fighting Fitzgeralds.”

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