Is the world ready for “Cleanup on Aisle Six: The Motion Picture”?
Producers Leonard Grant and Bryan Cranston think so, as their Quintus Prods. has closed a deal for Vance H. Trimble’s book “Sam Walton: The Inside Story of America’s Richest Man.”
Even the producers of the project admit that the life story of the Wal-Mart mogul isn’t exactly the stuff of summer blockbusters, but they are confident there’s enough in the life of the Fayetteville, Ark.-based entrepreneur to justify a movie.
“It is absolutely not something for Arnold Schwarzennegger,” said producer Grant, who adds that the story — about a poor kid from Missouri who rises from a lemonade stand to a fortune greater than Rockefeller, Trump, Getty or Perot — is going to be developed as “an inspiring presentation of what can happen in this country.”
Quintus is represented by none other than Creative Artists Agency, with the account headed by agent John Levin.
A few in the biz were willing to jump the gun Thursday and bandy around possible actors to tackle the Walton role.
Caravan Pictures founder Joe Roth suggested the late Sen. Sam J. Ervin — made famous during the Watergate hearings — because he had that Sam Walton “kind of look on his face,” while Columbia Pictures president of marketing and distribution Sid Ganis suggested George Steinbrenner because “he’s the perfect entrepreneur. He’s flamboyant. And he’s got stage presence.”
Other industryites suggested Paul Newman (“because he’s a down-home kind of a guy”), James Garner, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Wilford Brimley, Buddy Ebsen, Albert Finney — and Ralph Waite and Richard Thomas, no doubt because they starred in the “Waltons” television series.
As for the producers, Grant says it is too soon to say who they’ll approach, but indicated at least one of the above actors will be approached.
It’s a dramatic challenge to keep the audience on the edge of their seats as Sam opens his first store, then his second, then his 100th, followed by his dramatic and spellbinding recognition by Esquire magazine as the richest man of America, and the inevitable death.
“Jurassic Park” it ain’t.
And it may be a challenge to keep the character sympathetic, since he was controversial for funding conservative interest groups, as well as promoting chauvinism with his “Buy American” campaigns.
Just in case the Walton story ends up on clearance shelves, Quintus has a couple of other properties. It has just acquired Lee Stone’s and Barbara Bishop’s screenplay “Secret Agenda,” a romantic comedy set against Washington powerbrokers.
And it has struck a partnership with producer Renee Valente for “Call Me Counselor,” the true story of criminal lawyer Sara Halbert, who works with minorities and the abused in Brooklyn.