Project dueling with others in the works

Anne Meredith has been set to script “Piece of My Heart,” Lakeshore/Paramount’s Janis Joplin biopic, in which Renee Zellweger plans to star next year. Zellweger is producing with Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi.

Meredith wrote the script for “Bastard Out of Carolina” and followed that with the Holocaust film “Out of the Ashes.”

“I was courted for every film with a family in crisis, or where a child got hurt,” Meredith said. “I was flattered and made a nice living, but I was writing such intense, dark stuff that I felt like I had a black cloud hanging over my apartment building. I had to let the sun peek through.”

The forecast cleared after Meredith wrote “Delmore Can’t Dance,” a Paramount film Scott Rudin is producing and Robert Benton will direct. That script won her the Joplin job.

Lucchesi said, “I’d read ‘Delmore’ and our Paramount partners were excited about that script. Her knowledge of Janis and take on her life was what blew us away.”

Lakeshore has been laboring over the Joplin pic for seven years, flirting with Brittany Murphy and Melissa Etheridge to play Joplin, who died in 1970.

Paramount and Lakeshore aren’t the only ones pressing forward on a Joplin biopic. There has long been a rivalry with producer Peter Newman, who is partnered with William Haney on “The Gospel According to Janis.”

That pic holds rights to many of Joplin’s songs and also has the cooperation of the Joplin family. That film now has the participation of Penelope Spheeris; the “Wayne’s World” director is writing a script she plans to direct.

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