Arbus pic in focus

Kidman, Downey to star

Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. are negotiating to star in “Fur,” a River Road-financed drama about the life of photographer Diane Arbus. Pic is expected to shoot in Gotham in May.

Based on a biography by Patricia Bosworth, “Fur” reteams “Secretary” director Steven Shainberg and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson.

Bill Pohlad, Laura Bickford, Bonnie Timmermann and Andrew Fierberg produce; Edward Pressman is exec producer.

A deal was still being negotiated with Kidman, whose participation became possible when “Eucalyptus” fell apart because of script problems. Kidman had been set to star in that Fox Searchlight film with Russell Crowe. Kidman was courted for “Fur” immediately, with Shainberg flying to the set in Australia to woo her.

Arbus, one of the great American photographers of the 20th century, is known for her bizarre and disturbing snapshots. She committed suicide in 1971.

“Fur” has been a five-year passion for Timmermann, the casting director and producer who first set up the project for financing with Pressman and once had Samantha Morton in the Arbus part.

Project didn’t come together until Pressman sold his interest in the project to River Road’s Pohlad and Bickford, who most recently co-financed with Focus the Ang Lee-directed Jake Gyllenhaal/Heath Ledger starrer “Brokeback Mountain.” River Road also is prepping Che Guevara biopic “Che” with Steven Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro to shoot at year’s end.

Downey takes the job after starring in the Shane Black-directed “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang,” the Richard Linklater-directed “A Scanner Darkly” and “The Shaggy Dog.”

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