Hackford seeks hand for ‘Ranch’

Drama stars Helen Mirren, Joe Pesci

Director Taylor Hackford will shortly begin knocking on studio doors looking for a domestic distribution partner for “Love Ranch,” the independently financed drama he directed in which Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci star as the proprietors of Nevada’s first legalized brothel.

Hackford, who’s also a producer of the film, is looking for distribution for the under-$25 million drama that came through a New Mexico shoot unscathed by the problems that beset its financier, Capitol Films.

His wife, Mirren, plays the queen of a brothel and Pesci plays her husband.

Their characters are loosely based on Joe and Sally Conforte, who ran the Mustang Ranch, where prizefighter Oscar Bonavena was gunned down after being suspected of having an affair with madam Sally.

Newcomer Sergio Paris Mencheta plays the boxer; the love triangle figures heavily in the plot of a film scripted by Mark Jacobson.

“I’ll take the film myself to studios, a track I followed with ‘Ray,’” Hackford told Daily Variety. “Everyone thought that was a studio film, but I only showed it after I finished it. I got lucky because Ron Meyer loved it.” Hackford said that unless a helmer is making superhero films, he’s better off leading the sales charge on films he’s passionate about.

“Directors have to be realistic about this process because people are so frightened right now,” he said. “If you’re involved, you can get somebody to take a show with you.”

Hackford will get the film ready for release and then has several candidates for his next slot. They include a Robin Shushan-scripted indie about the turbulent early life of playwright Tennessee Williams, “The Merchant of Shanghai”; Neil LaBute-scripted remake “The Woman Next Door” for New Line; and “To The Ends of the Earth,” a Tim Sexton-scripted epic about Cortez’s conquest of Mexico.

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