Quintano builds from ‘Scratch’

With Bruce Willis and Jean-Claude Van Damme reportedly in two of four active projects, director-screenwriter Gene Quintano is getting set to move into the front ranks of Hollywood hyphenates.

First up is the post-Civil War Western “Scratch,” which Quintano will direct this fall at Old Tucson Studios in Arizona as a small-screen feature for TNT. Quintano also rewrote the original script by Tony Anthony. Stan Brooks (“Christmas in Connecticut”) will produce.

Quintano has done mostly lighter fare as co-writer/director of “National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1” and production rewriter for the Burt Reynolds pic “Cop and a Half.”

“Scratch” follows a battle-weary gunslinger who works as a trick marksman in a shooting gallery in the Southwest. He comes face-to-face with an old adversaryand also develops a friendship with a lonely woman. No thesps have been set, though Quintano will meet with TNT next week to flesh out details.

“It’s kind of like (Clint Eastwood’s) ‘man with no name’ character,” Quintano said. “It’s good not to be directing a comedy for a change.”

Quintano and co-writer David Lippman also sold the original script “Beauty” to Cinergi’s Andy Vajna on Tuesday for a reported $ 500,000 as a Bruce Willis vehicle, according to sources. “Loaded Weapon” producer David Willis reportedly got Vajna interested in the project for his brother.

The pic, which has not been finally cast or set with a helmer, explores what might have happened if Sleeping Beauty was awakened in present-day Gotham by an archaeologist’s kiss.

The witch — described by sources as a “Leona Helmsley-type character”– must then finish the job she started with the poisoned apple 400 years earlier. Sources call this a big budget pic.

Wham Bam Van Damme is set to topline in the buccaneer adventure “Quest,” which is set up at Universal for a Christmas camera start. No helmer has been tapped. Quintano just handed in a rewrite this week.

Moshe Diamant, who produced helmer John Woo’s Van Damme pic “Hard Target,” will also shepherd this outing, with the kickboxing Belgian as an 1860s Dickensian do-gooder who is kidnapped by pirates in the South China Sea and groomed for a giant one-on-one duel on the mainland.

The pic is described by sources as “Oliver Twist meets the Pirates of the Caribbean” with a “very substantial budget.”

John Candy will star in “Our Father,” a project set up at Paramount that Quintano is writing. Michael Illich of Prelude Pictures is co-producing with “Patriot Games” team Mace Neufeld and Bob Rehme.

Candy will portray a priest who is transferred from swank Beverly Hills to inner-city Detroit to mend his slack ways, and ends up revitalizing the depressed neighborhood. The thesp and Quintano just returned from the Motor City , where they met with several priests. The pic so far has no helmer.

Quintano also recently sold the hockey thriller “Arena” to Baldwin Entertainment. Sources describe pic as “‘Die Hard’ during the last game of the Stanley Cup playoffs.”

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