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Fox mulls playing ‘Pat’ hand; TriStar woos Woo

IS IT A HE OR SHE? Twentieth Century Fox is plotting a movie based on “Saturday Night Live’s” androgynous Pat character played by Julia Sweeney. Tentatively referred to as “The Pat Movie,” the project is on the fast track at the studio under the guidance of senior VP Susan Cartsonis, according to Fox’s newly installed production prexy Tom Jacobson.

Sweeney is about to start working on the script about her ambiguous gender character in collaboration with her husband, Stephen Hibbert, and Jim Emerson. While he declined to give any specific story details, Jacobson said, “The story will exploit the ambiguities of the character and all the situations in terms of what her persona is and what would confuse people.”

The production topper added, “The character is huge and popular and we think it’s a really funny, original, challenging comedy idea that will deal with the trials and tribulations of her journey through life and her trying to find a mate and what that mate would be.”

Jacobson said while there’s no specific production start targeted, “I expect it to happen fairly quickly,” pending Sweeney’s “SNL” availability and how the script evolves. In what Jacobson described as a “complicated deal,” Fox had to acquire rights to the Pat character from NBC; Sweeney also controls certain rights. “SNL” principal Lorne Michaels will not be involved in “The Pat Movie,” to be produced by Charles Wessler.

MEMO MAN’S ’93 MESSAGE: Disney’s “Mr. Memo” Jeffrey Katzenberg delivered his latest white paper over the weekend at the American Film Institute’s fourth annual Third Decade Council’s Motion Picture Council, giving his views on why the movie business is in its current creative slump.

According to one person who attended Saturday’s session, the studio chairman’s keynote address was a call to the creative community to connect back to focusing on quality movies with themes, instead of sticking to safe formulas. He reportedly acknowledged that studio executives need to be receptive to more original, character-driven stories, and not merely chase after the “commercial brass ring,” as has been the case recently.

He argued that he and his fellow decision-makers were responsible for movies becoming stale, homogenized and derivative by sending out the message that safe is best.

Katzenberg also talked about a kinder, gentler Disney, and how he personally changed his high-intensity ways: 7:30 a.m. meetings are now held at 8:30.

TRISTAR WOOING WOO: TriStar is wooing hot Hong Kong action director John Woo to helm IndieProd/Rastar’s “Pin Cushion,” a starring vehicle long targeted for Sharon Stone. Woo’s William Morris agent Chris Godsick confirmed, “TriStarhas made John an offer and we’re considering it–John is a big fan of Sharon Stone’s.” Sources said TriStar, whose offer is subject to script and budget approval, is actually trying to get Woo committed to a pay-or-play deal in order to lock Stone down for an Aug. 1 start date.

An insider explained: “They (TriStar) feel if they don’t get a start date, they risk losing her, even if the script isn’t ready.” Apparently it isn’t, yet. Woo, who hasn’t committed to the project, would be free by August after completing post on Universal’s “Hard Target” (due out this summer).

“Pin Cushion” is a futuristic action road movie originally acquired by former Columbia Pix prexy Dawn Steel for producer Scott Rudin, which was subsequently rerouted to Ray Stark and Dan Melnick. Josh Donen, responsible for breathing new life into the project, will produce; Rudin remains exec producer.

NANNY THAT ROCKS THE ADDAMS FAMILY: Joan Cusack has been cast in the newly created role of Debbie, the nanny serial killer, in the next installment of Rudin’s production of “The Addams Family,” which bears the timely title “Addams Family Values.”

And, Carol Kane will replace the older Judith Malina in the part of Granny, since the role will be more physically demanding this time around. The other new character created for the sequel is the yet-to-be cast role of Wednesday’s love interest–described as a pale, scrawny 13-year-old Jewish boy.

The sequel–which except for Malina reunites the entire original cast–is set to roll the first week of February for a Thanksgiving release.

The story centers on the birth of Gomez and Morticia’s baby, Pubert, and the nanny from hell who comes to live in the house and winds up marrying Uncle Fester.

BURTON WILL MARRY MARY: After vacillating at the altar until approving a second rewrite, director Tim Burton notified TriStar exex by letter Friday that he will wed himself to Christopher Hampton’s “Mary Reilly” script. It’ll be his project after he helms “Ed Wood” for Columbia Pix. That pic, to star Johnny Depp and reportedly Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, is to begin in early spring.

TriStar hopes “Reilly,” a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story told through the eyes of a young chambermaid, will go before the cameras around November. There had been much controversy inside Sony Pictures Entertainment whether the project–which Peter Guber and John Peters originally developed at Warners in ’89 with Roman Polanski and eventually got in turnaround at GPEC — would wind up at Columbia or TriStar.

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