Screen time for crime

Papazian-Hirsch Entertainment has formed a producing partnership with James Polster and Charles Ardai to develop feature projects based on the Hard Case Crime novels.

First film, aimed for lensing later this year, will be “Little Girl Lost,” based on the Richard Aleas novel about a young detective who discovers that his high school sweetheart has just been found brutally murdered on the roof of New York’s seediest strip club.

“Richard Aleas” is a pen name for Hard Case Crime publisher Ardai, who will collaborate on the screenplay with Polster and James Hirsch (“The Rape of Richard Beck”). Robert Papazian and Hirsch will exec produce.

“These movies will adhere to the visual and storytelling style that have made the Hard Case Crime novels so popular,” said Papazian and Hirsch, co-producers on HBO’s “Rome” and the “Raw Feed” DVD thrillers distributed by Warner Home Video. “We want to capture everything that makes these books irresistible, from the great plotting and hard-boiled action to the film noir atmosphere, which just begs to be brought to the screen with musical scores by the legends of American jazz.”

Hirsch told Daily Variety that the pics will be budgeted in the $5 million range.

Ardai, the founder and CEO of Internet company Juno, launched Hard Case in 2004 with the aim of reviving the pulp era crime novels of the 1940s and ’50s. The imprint, a venture of Winterfall, includes novels by Stephen King, Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Pete Hamill and Donald E. Westlake, as well as pulp era authors such as Cornell Woolrich, David Dodge and George Axelrod.

Besides “Rome,” Papazian-Hirsch’s credits include “Nash Bridges,” “The Invaders,” “Hart to Hart” telepics, “The Day After,” “Crazy From the Heart” and “The Betty Ford Story.”

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