Scribe swings to update for WB

This article was corrected on July 7, 2003.

Screenwriter John August is turning his attention from angels to apes in an attempt to create a new franchise.

High-profile scribe of “Charlie’s Angels” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” will be paid a substantial seven-figure sum to pen a live-action big-budget feature version of “Tarzan” for WB-based Jerry Weintraub Prods.

“Ocean’s 12″ producer Weintraub will produce pic with Alan Riche and Tony Ludwig. Dark Horse Entertainment’s Mike Richardson and Brand Management’s Scott Cherrin are also expected to take some form of producing credit on the pic.

“I am thrilled to have a great writer like John August on this project,” said Weintraub. “He’s going to give us a totally fresh look at the Tarzan legend.”

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan of the Apes” was written in 1912, and August says pic will be a big summer actioner that will see the classic tale updated much like the “Superman” and “Batman” legends have been over the years.

A self-professed fan of the character since the 1970s animated series, August said Tarzan “feels like an enduring cultural myth like Hercules or Robin Hood.”

“The movie versions of Tarzan always portray him as a sort of jungle hippie,” he added. “Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan is a much different character. He’s more ferocious and wild, like Wolverine without the claws. That’s the version we want to use.”

The legend of Tarzan was first immortalized on screen in the 1930s in MGM’s series of features starring Johnny Weissmuller and has been made into approximately 94 features and 10 TV series.

August’s Tarzan will also feature a new Jane. “Our Jane is a modern, educated and very not-helpless woman,” he said. “She plays a big part in the movie.”

“Tarzan” was most recently an animated feature for the Walt Disney Co., which made direct-to-video pic “Tarzan and Jane” released last year.

Pic will also bear no relation to the upcoming WB series “Tarzan and Jane.”

In terms of live-action features, last Tarzan pic was Warner Bros.’ “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes,” directed by Hugh Hudson. That 1984 pic starred Christopher Lambert as the somewhat tortured Lord Greystoke who, unable to come to terms with life in civilized society as a human, escapes back to the wild to live with the apes.

Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow also made the 1998 “Tarzan and the Lost City,” starring Casper Van Dien, in which on the eve of his wedding John Clayton must return to the African jungle to save his homeland from destruction.

August, who is repped by UTA, most recently penned “Big Fish” for filmmaker Tim Burton; pic just wrapped for Columbia Pictures. His first feature script was Sony’s “Go.”

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