O'Connor blames Shaye for film's hold-up

Gavin O’Connor, whose March 14 release date on “Pride and Glory” was scrapped late last year by New Line, wants answers.

O’Connor is blaming the AWOL status of his movie on New Line chairman Bob Shaye. The writer-director is so incensed that he said he will withhold “Warrior,” a script he’s due to deliver to the studio in the next few weeks, until he knows the fate of his film. The director is also exploring the possibility of extricating “Pride and Glory” after New Line told him the picture wouldn’t likely be released until next year.

Trailers for the film have been running since fall before “No Country for Old Men,” “Atonement” and “American Gangster.”

New Line wouldn’t comment on the situation, but execs are in the final stages of negotiating a new deal with Time Warner and its topper, Jeff Bewkes, that could conceivably downsize the company. A resolution seems reasonable within the next two weeks.

But O’Connor and his stars — Colin Farrell, Edward Norton, Jon Voight and Noah Emmerich (New Line exec Toby Emmerich’s brother) — are voicing their growing frustration to make sure the industry doesn’t think they’ve made an unreleasable film.

They also hope they can provoke Shaye into showing the guts he displayed in the past on adult-themed gambles like “Seven” and “American History X,” which also starred Norton and had plenty of its own production drama.

“It was a joy making the movie, but then something happened internally at that company,” O’Connor said. “I don’t think Bob Shaye believes in it, and he’s decided he’ll only release (sure bet) films. He never had the decency to call me. We’ve delivered something special and unique, a film that’s not for everybody but has something to say. We’re all heartbroken.”

O’Connor is nearly finished writing “Warrior,” which he describes as “Gladiator” set within a family of mixed martial arts fighters. The project is constructed to span three films. O’Connor said he made a New Line deal for it because he had such a great experience making the film, but he’ll hold it back until he gets answers.

“Pride and Glory” was screened at CAA headquarters late last week to begin getting word out that it may need a new home, though getting another distributor to pay full price to adopt a $30 million orphan won’t be easy.

Morality tale focuses on corruption in a family of Gotham cops. The son of an 18-year NYPD veteran, O’Connor and his brother Greg wrote the script with Joe Carnahan, hoping to create a ’70s-style film that uses crooked cops as a metaphor for institutional corruption in the power structure.

“Gavin was able to tease out themes that are relevant to my generation and to what this country is going through,” Norton said. “This isn’t about New Line not knowing the film is strong; I just think there is a paralysis right now that has to do with much bigger issues than any particular film. We’re a victim of the moment, and I just hope they will either find a way to give the film its due or graciously let us do it with someone else.”

Farrell said: “This is the first time it’s happened to me, where a film I believed in so strongly, not only as entertainment but for its pertinent message and great performances, sits on a shelf. This is bizarre.”

Voight, who plays the cop family patriarch, is also frustrated, but optimistic.

“It ain’t over till it’s over,” he said. “Obviously, things are going on over there, and I’ve seen this situation before, where a studio dilemma created hardship for a film of quality. You don’t want to put it aside for long, though, because you can lose your momentum.”

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