Hopes to re-establish Brits in indie market

LONDON– As they get ready to shoot the “Basic Instinct” sequel “Risk Addiction” in Blighty this March, Intermedia and director Michael Caton-Jones have pacted to follow up with a much smaller and more personal project — an adaptation of Alan Warner’s Scottish novel “The Sopranos.”

This is part of an effort by Intermedia to re-establish its British presence and revive its involvement in smaller indie pics alongside the blockbuster productions, such as “Alexander” and “T3,” that have monopolized its slate over the past two years.

The company has hired Ollie Madden from Miramax to become VP of U.K. production and development, reporting to prexy Scott Kroopf.

“I have a three-pronged role here,” says Madden (son of director John). “Building the existing slate, supervising any productions and looking for investment opportunities in terms of films needing additional financing.”

Caton-Jones personally optioned Warner’s book several years ago, investing significant sums of his own money to develop the screenplay with Alan Sharp and Warner himself while intermittently seeking financing.

In turns comic, sexy and poignant, the project, awkwardly retitled “The Sopranettes” in deference to the better known HBO show, tracks a day in the life of six teenage choirgirls on an alcohol-fueled rampage across Edinburgh.

Madden is also overseeing “Baghdad Blog,” based on the online diary of young Iraqi Salam Pax before and during the U.S. invasion. Asif Kapadia (“The Warrior”) is attached to direct, with a script by Ross Klaven (“Tigerland”).

Kapadia is also in talks to direct “The Frog King,” adapted by Brett Easton Ellis from the satirical novel by Adam Davies about a New York guy trying to win back his ex-girlfriend.

Intermedia is backing Jez Butterworth’s action-comedy “Liberty” about a department store cosmetics assistant who is mistaken for a notorious female gun-runner. Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack’s Mirage Enterprises will produce.

“It’s a big step forward for Intermedia to have someone with Ollie’s taste and keen eye for talent taking the lead with U.K. and European filmmakers,” Kroopf says.

But one ill-fated British project has disappeared from Intermedia’s slate — the amnesia thriller “Me Again,” written by Stephen Moffat for Beryl Vertue’s Hartswood Films.

Stephen Hopkins was all set to direct and John Cusack to star, with co-financing from Intermedia and New Line. But last September, New Line topper Bob Shaye decided the movie (which was set up and collapsed once before as a Bruce Willis vehicle) was “too arthouse” and pulled the plug.

“If ever a film was not arthouse, it is this one, but maybe Mr. Shaye has a different view to mine (and everyone else involved),” comments an exasperated Vertue, who has now put the project on the back burner to concentrate on TV production, while she summons up the energy for another effort to get the film made.

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