Hoffman and Ziff's company will handle 'Well,' 'Crumpacker'

PARK CITY, Utah — Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Ziff’s production shingle Cooper’s Town Prods. unveiled its upcoming slate of films Thursday to Variety as the company’s second feature, “Jack Goes Boating,” finishes making the rounds at the Sundance Film Festival.

Marking Hoffman’s directorial debut, “Jack Goes Boating” made its world bow in the Premiere section of Sundance. Overture Films, where Cooper’s Town has a first-look deal, will release the film later this year.

Overture co-produced and co-financed “Jack Goes Boating.”

Ziff and Hoffman are pushing ahead with a handful of projects, including psychological thriller “The Well,” starring Guy Pearce and Mary-Louise Parker. Tim Guinee will write and helm in his feature directorial debut.

Filmmakers are keeping details of the storyline under wraps, but “Well” revolves around a well-to-do Manhattan couple whose obsessive pursuit of salvation ultimately leads to destruction.

Guinee sent his script to Hoffman, who immediately brought the project onboard at Cooper’s Town.

“For us, the relationship with the artist is key; we strive to be a company with whom filmmakers feel inspired and supported while working,” Ziff said.

Cooper’s Town is shopping “The Well” to financiers, as it is with comedy “Mr. Crumpacker and the Man From the Letter,” toplining Hoffman.

“Mr. Crumpacker,” from writer-director Kazuo Ohno, originated as a Sundance Lab project. Hoffman starred in several scenes shot by Ohno while at Sundance, and brought the project to Cooper’s Town.

Ohno said Hoffman is perfect for the role Mr. Crumpacker, an overbearing boss who decides to go in search of the meaning of life, even though he lacks any capacity for introspection.

Other projects at Cooper’s Town include the untitled Mississippi Basketball Project, an atypical sports drama set on the cusp of the civil rights movement and based on Dean Colvard’s tome “Mixed Emotions.”

Colvard was the president of Mississippi State U. in the 1960s, when the school came under intense fire for not allowing its athletic teams to play schools that had integrated teams. Rule prevented the MSU basketball team from reaching the championships.

A conflicted character, Colvard initially supported the rule. He then abolished it, only to come under attack from state politicians and other parties.

Guinee and Ali Selim (“Sweetland”) are set to adapt “Mixed Emotions” for the bigscreen. Cooper’s Town is producing with Rachel Griffin.

Cooper’s Town also is developing “The Farm” for the bigscreen, based on the New York Magazine cover story and upcoming book by Manny Howard. Scribe Donal Lardner Ward has been set to adapt the story of a Brooklyn husband and father of two who, battling a career downturn, finds a renewed sense of purpose when transforming his backyard into a working, urban farm.

“I was drawn to the project because I identified so much with the central character, who discovers unexpected rewards by making choices no reasonable person would,” Ward said.

Hoffman and Ziff set up their production company in 2003. First production was “Capote,” for which Hoffman won the Oscar for best actor. In 2008, Sara Murphy joined the shingle as head of development.

On Sunday, Variety presented the Acura Indie Impact Award to Hoffman at a Park City event. The actor was there with the cast and crew from “Jack Goes Boating.” The film was adapted from the Off Broadway play starring Hoffman. Hoffman and John Ortiz reprise their roles, while Amy Ryan joins the cast. Cooper’s Town produced with Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf of Big Beach, and producer Beth O’Neil.

“We could not be more proud of the films we have made thus far,” Hoffman said. “And we can’t wait to get going on the next one.”

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