Interscope going to ‘School’ with Holmes

Interscope Communications has acquired the remake rights to the 1960 British comedy “School for Scoundrels” and has hired Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes to write the screenplay.

The project was brought to Interscope by Stephen Bedell and Lynn Danielson of Dog & Pony Prods., who will produce the film with Interscope producers Diane Nabatoff and David Madden.

According to sources, the property has been sought after for many years by a number of producers and studios, including Disney and Paramount, and Interscope has been trying to make the deal for the remake rights for almost a year. Several years ago, producer Carl Foreman was developing it as a possible television series with Garry Marshall as a writer.

The deals for Dog & Pony and the services of Holmes were hammered out by Stuart Miller of the Agency for the Performing Arts.

“School for Scoundrels,” the entertaining story of a training school for one-upmanship, was written by Hal E. Chester and Patricia Moyes, based on the Stephen Potter book “Gamesmanship: The Art of Winning Games Without Actually Cheating.” Produced by Chester and directed by Robert Hamer, the film starred venerable British actors Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas and Alastair Sim.

Reached Thursday in New York, Holmes said in spite of the film’s British roots, the remake “will be an extremely American film. The art of the elegant con has been practiced by Americans as well as the English. I’m going to be basing it more on the philosophy of the film than anything else.”

Holmes, whose Broadway musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” won five Tonys, including best musical, is currently writing two other studio projects — Paramount’s “Speak Easy” and Touchstone’s “Traps.” He confirmed that “School for Scoundrels” will be his next project, although he added he does not know when he will turn in a first draft.

Reached Thursday, Interscope’s Nabatoff added, “It will definitely translate to today’s audiences. It’s funny and charming. I am thrilled after pursuing this for a long time to be able to make this.”

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