Matthau gets ‘Freaky’

Pic to be financed by Peterson

Charlie Matthau will direct his scripted adaptation of “Freaky Deaky,” the 1988 Elmore Leonard novel. Matthau will produce with Michael Meltzer. Pic is set to be financed by Eric Peterson, a Vegas-based entrepreneur with holdings in publishing and real estate.

“Freaky Deaky” is the story of two former 1960s revolutionaries who decide to use their bomb-making skills to become capitalists. It was one of multiple Leonard titles optioned by Quentin Tarantino several years ago.

While Tarantino turned “Rum Punch” into “Jackie Brown,” he never got around to “Freaky Deaky.” The project was then optioned by John Malkovich, but languished.

Matthau, who directed an adaptation of Truman Capote’s “The Grass Harp,” said he has routinely pestered Leonard since the rights reverted to the author. Once Leonard relented, Matthau used his own coin to secure the book rights. He is using the project to relaunch the Matthau Co., which has been dormant since the death his parents, Walter and Carol Matthau.

“When Elmore turned 80, he decided to give me a shot and get me off his back,” said Matthau, who made several changes to the book. Since part of the plot involves the shooting of a movie, Matthau changed the book’s Detroit setting to Los Angeles, and set the tale in 1974 instead of 1988 to make it closer to when political radicals would have surfaced. Leonard, who will be exec producer along with Michael Siegel, approved the changes.

“Charlie’s screenplay works,” Leonard said. “Good parts for good actors. I see this as a chance for my favorite book to become my favorite screenplay adaptation.”

Matthau hopes to get into production later this year and said Peterson will finance the film if necessary, but they would rather find a distributor to share the burden.

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