HYPER ACTIVE: Scott Rudin–or “the scooter,” as one studio head affectionately calls him–has reteamed “The Fisher King” director Terry Gilliam and writer Richard LaGravenese for “The Defective Detective” at Paramount. Based on an original script by Gilliam and LaGravenese, it’s a “Wizard of Oz”-ish fantasy story about a New York cop tracking down a missing kid; he has to enter her fantasy world to find her. Rudin’s partner on the project, which would go next year, is former Fox production exec Margery Simpkin.
Rudin also has hitched Robert Benton to adapt and direct his recently acquired Richard Russo book “Nobody’s Fool,” which reportedly will be the first of a new multipic deal the filmmaker is about to ink at Paramount. “Nobody’s Fool,” on which Arlene Donovan will be Rudin’s producing partner, is about a guy who’s wrecked a lot of relationships and now is forced to put his life back together over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.
Third but not least, Rudin will produce, along with Stuart Ostrow, the Broadway play “Face Value,” a comedy written by David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly”) and to be directed by Jerry Zaks (“Guys and Dolls,””Six Degrees of Separation”). Jujamcyn Theaters is helping finance the production, which will open in March. Loosely based on the controversy surrounding Jonathan Pryce’s casting in “Miss Saigon,” the race farce is set on the opening night of a Broadway musical in which an American actor plays the lead role of Fu Manchu.
“ALL I WANT FOR HANUKKAH”: There’s a faux memo circulating on Paramount letterhead to new studio chief Sherry Lansing regarding the “interoffice status” of projects from Brandon Tartikoff’s regime.
Allegedly authored by a Paramount exec, here’s a sampling:
“‘The Last Great Ride’: This former priority project has proved difficult to cast. Kevin Costner passed on playing Brandon Tartikoff for the 37th time, although Ernest Borgnine has expressed interest in portraying the rather insignificant role of Warren Littlefield.
“‘Star Trek VII’: The crew of the Enterprise travels back in time to modern-day Hollywood in a desperate attempt to stop the making of ‘Whispers in the Dark.’ Concept has been deemed ‘too inside.’ ”
According to the joke memo, Paramount is seeking a writer for “All I Want for Hanukkah.”
Then there’s “‘NBC Park’: Designed to compete with Spielberg’s opus (“Jurassic Park”), this is a story of the contemporary dinosaurs presently employed by NBC.”
Those projects awaiting first or additional drafts: “The Today Show Movie” and “Fried Green Fajitas,” which chronicles the creation of the Taco Bell fast food chain.
Among those recommended for turnaround: “All I Want for Easter,””All I Want for Thanksgiving,””ALF: The Motion Picture” and “Couch Potatoes,” the moving story of the very first Nielsen family;
And finally, “Jennifer 8 1/2”: Still awaiting word from Fellini.
ROTH RUCKUS: Joe Roth’s impending departure from 20th Century Fox has created high anxiety on the lot, from the executive and producer ranks to the echelons of key talent, many of whom are upset their trusted leader is leaving.
Word is John Hughes of “Home Alone” is not a happy camper, since he signed on because of Roth, and no key-man clause exists. Sources say another of Fox’s key talents, filmmaker James Cameron–who has a long-term financing/distribution output deal–has been reassured by Rupert Murdoch and deal architect Strauss Zelnick that everything’s cool, safe and secure.
Talk continues that a deal is close at hand for Fox production prexy Roger Birnbaum to join his boss at Disney. Birnbaum–who reportedly has received several major offers since the Roth announcement–still has a year to go on his contract and still has to make an acceptable deal with Roth, or whomever.
Meanwhile, the unusual, autonomous structureof Roth’s new Disney deal reportedly has caused some high-level balking, in particular from Touchstone prexy David Hoberman. He’s said to be in a major tizzy that the former Fox movie chief–now a producer/product supplier–will have greenlighting power, while he doesn’t.
Hoberman contends: “I don’t know where these rumors are coming from, but for the record, I have the highest regard for Joe Roth as a filmmaker, executive and human being, and I am delighted that he will contribute to the overall slate of films from the Walt Disney companies. Now if only he could make ‘Home Alone’ sequels for Touchstone, my life would be perfect.”
Hollywood Pix captain Ricardo Mestres also denies any discontent.
“Greenlighting has never been an issue, I’ve worked for 12 years with Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Rich Frank and we’ve always been together in both success and failure. How can I be upset about distributing terrific movies from someone with such on-target commercial instincts? The Joe Roth deal is a smash for everyone.”
SILVER ENTERS ARNOLD MOVIE FRAY: TV’s favorite couple, Roseanne and Tom Arnold, continue to get movie offers. The latest to get them excited, their William Morris agent John Burnham confirms, is “Trouble in Paradise,” submitted by producer Joel Silver and Warner Bros. Based on an original script by Kathy Kloves, the project is in the vein of an updated “Out of Towners,” about a couple who have a nightmare vacation in Hawaii. The Arnolds are looking to start a movie in April during hiatus of their respective series. They have three other pix pending at Columbia: “Wild Kingdom,” an original road comedy that screenwriter Bob Comfort is penning for Ned and Nancy Graham Tanen, and “Bats” for producers Jon Peters and Joe Vecchio. Lorne Michaels, who’s asked the Arnolds to do cameos in the “Coneheads” movie as the parents of Chris Farley, is developing “The Naughty Lady” for the couple to star in with Randy and Dennis Quaid. The premise is that the Quaids portray two country bumpkins who subscribe to a 976 sex number that’s operated by the all-American couple, the Arnolds.