Competing president's kid pics race to hit the bigscreen

Who will have the first “First Daughter”?

Forest Whitaker has signed on to direct the romantic comedy “First Daughter” for Regency Enterprises.

Simultaneously, Alcon Entertainment is in pre-production on its own “First Daughter,” a romantic comedy to star Mandy Moore that will serve as TV helmer Andy Cadiff’s feature directing bow.

Regency’s project is slated to begin production in mid-May. Meanwhile, Alcon will begin production May 17 in London and distrib Warner Bros. plans to release the pic in January 2004.

At Regency, “First Daughter” is the tale of the college-age daughter of the U.S. president who insists on going to college without a retinue of Secret Service agents. The president agrees, but slips a downy-faced agent into the school to watch her. They fall in love — until she figures out his identity.

In Alcon’s “First Daughter,” the U.S. president’s 18-year-old daughter gives the Secret Service the slip to go on a romantic European road trip unsupervised by the earpiece set.

Competing projects aren’t unusual in Hollywood — witness the recent race to bring “Frida” to the screen, or the bakeoffs between “Deep Impact” and “Meteor” or “Red Planet” and “Mission to Mars.” However, it’s unusual to see two competing projects move into production in nearly perfect lockstep.

Arrival of the CAA-repped Whitaker kicks into high gear a project acquired in March 1999 from actor-turned-scribe Jerry O’Connell (“Jerry Maguire”). It was rewritten by “Bring It On” scribe Jessica Bendinger, who also recently penned Jonathan Demme’s “The Truth About Charlie.”

O’Connell was to have initially played the secret agent, but now will exec produce. Casting is under way and should be complete in the next two weeks, a Regency spokesman said.

Regency’s “First Daughter” is produced by Fox-based Davis Entertainment prexy Wyck Godfrey. Production is fully financed by Regency and will be overseen by Regency’s senior VP Kara Francis and production prexy Sanford Panitch.

Meanwhile, Alcon execs have spent the last two months prepping “First Daughter,” penned by scribes Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman and rewritten by Randi Singer (“Mrs. Doubtfire”). Alcon announced its acquisition of the spec script in late 2000 (Daily Variety, Nov. 17, 2000).

The Alcon film will be produced by David Parfitt (“Shakespeare in Love”), Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson and co-produced by Alcon VP production Kira Davis and VP development Steven Wegner. Wayne Rice (“Dude, Where’s My Car?”) is executive producer.

Moore is repped by WMA.

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