‘Sideways’ star will follow ‘Paper’ trail

Giamatti to play struggling novelist in FilmColony pic

“Sideways” star Paul Giamatti is attached to topline “Paper Man,” a comedy mobilizing for an April start.

The film will mark the directorial debut of scribes Michele and Kieran Mulroney. FilmColony’s Richard Gladstein and Management 360’s Guymon Casady produce, with Darin Friedman co-producing.

Giamatti will play a man struggling to recapture the spark that made him a successful novelist. His marriage also is disintegrating, and neither problem is helped by the presence of an imaginary superhero friend who has been with the writer since childhood. On Cape Cod, he strikes up a platonic relationship with a local high school girl that re-energizes him.

Kieran Mulroney has a long list of credits as an actor and Michele, his wife, has directed theater.

The Mulroneys wrote the script over a year ago through the Sundance Writers Lab, and it caught the attention of Friedman. They were quickly signed by WMA and Management 360, which organized a bake-off among producers who weren’t asked to put up a dime as the Mulroneys weren’t interested in an option deal. The goal was a commitment to get the movie made, and Gladstein, whose recent credits include “Finding Neverland” and “The Cider House Rules,” got the nod.

Giamatti came next, and the producers expect to pin down a distribution deal before Christmas. Then, they’ll lock down the spring slot of Giamatti, who followed “Sideways” with the Ron Howard-directed “Cinderella Man,” toplining Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger.

“I was lucky to be chosen, and the next day I got calls from everybody else, basically cursing me,” said Gladstein, who would not name the bridesmaids.

After Brad Pitt read the script, he used his influence to bring the Mulroneys aboard for a long stretch of production rewrite work on “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” They were hired by Warner Bros. to adapt the Matthew Sharpe novel “Sleeping Father,” and the studio was sufficiently pleased by the first draft to make a blind deal with the pair for a second project.

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