“Will & Grace” star Eric McCormack will make his feature directing debut for Disney with “What You Wish For,” which he will also write and star in. Hawk Koch will produce.
Disney bought his romantic comedy pitch after Mouse House prexy Nina Jacobson and exec Brad Epstein saw “Pirates,” a short film that McCormack wrote and directed. When they asked McCormack if he had any feature ideas, he had a good one ready, one that was hatched by his wife, Janet Holden, an assistant director.
“It’s about a normal married Midwestern couple whose marriage is turned upside down because of a celebrity sex fantasy,” McCormack said. “The idea is, no matter how happy a person is with his partner, there’s that one hot actress or athlete you’d allow them to sleep with, knowing it would never happen. Here, it happens.”
When it was clear that McCormack had the chops to write and direct the film, his reps at Hyler Management and Endeavor sought to match him with a strong producer who had experience with actors making their directing debuts. Hawk Koch worked with Edward Norton on his directing debut, “Keeping the Faith,” and with Warren Beatty on “Heaven Can Wait.” Koch sparked to the pitch and came aboard.
“Eric’s on hiatus now, and he plans to write during the summer, so that we’ll be able to go into pre-production in the spring and shoot during next year’s hiatus,” Koch said.
McCormack joins the likes of Eriq La Salle, David Schwimmer and Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) as series stars who have made the transition to directing. McCormack deliberately didn’t seek to cut his teeth helming episodes of his hit series.
“First off, Jim Burrows directs every episode, and I wanted to do this on my own terms,” McCormack said. So the thesp spent about $80,000 to finance his short film, supplemented by NBC’s lending equipment to make the 23-minute film.
“It was really a warm-up. … I wanted to wait until I had enough clout and confidence to be able to walk into Disney, say here’s what I want to do and have them say, ‘Great, we’re behind you.’ “