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Rand novel a giant project

Music entrepreneur Irving Azoff’s Giant Pictures is negotiating a deal with Warner Bros. for the remake of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead,” the company confirmed Friday.

This follows just three weeks after Giant received the greenlight from Buena Vista for production of director Matty Rich’s “The Inkwell.”

The WB development deal would put “The Fountainhead” on the fast track, giving Giant a crack at reprising the project 44 years after the release of director King Vidor’s version, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal.

“The Fountainhead” revolves around architect Howard Roark and his fight against commercial compromise. The plot is thickened by his relationship with Dominique, a woman whose force-of-will is as strong as his. Giant Pictures is partnered with producer James Hill on the remake.

If a deal is finalized, the movie rights will end up back at WB, the distrib of the original pic, after a long and winding road to production.

Rights were first sold to United Artists as part of its acquisition of the library of all pre-1950 Warner Bros. movies, acquired by MGM in its purchase of UA, and acquired by Turner Broadcasting System Inc. in its $ 1.2 billion purchase of MGM/UA’s entire library in 1986.

Turner Entertainment Co. — the unit developed to manage movie assets — subsequently licensed “Fountainhead” to producer Hill, who partnered with Giant, which in turn began negotiations to deliver the project back to WB.

Development of “Fountainhead” and production of “The Inkwell” mark the transition from start-up to upstart for Giant, launched 16 months ago with the hiring of president Jon Jashni and creative executive Matthew Baer.

“I’ve always been a great movie fan and my experiences producing “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Urban Cowboy” were both fun and financially successful,” Azoff said. “I now look at movies as the third of Giant’s three core businesses — merchandising and records/music publishing are the others.”

In getting up to speed, Giant Pictures has punched ahead with a slate of at least nine movies in active development.

Along with the other Giant business segs, company is affiliated with WB under a first-look deal.

“Giant Pictures was initially viewed, because of Irving’s success in the music world, as an adjunct to a record company,” Giant prez Jashni said.

“Over the past year, our mandate has been to focus on projects with solid literary underpinnings to create a separate and clear identity for the company in the film world.”

Included in Giant’s slate are the previously announced Beacon Communications partnership for “Hurricane Carter,” which is being penned by Armyan Bernstein, and an untitled sexual thriller in the early stages of development with director Carlo Carlei.

Also included in the slate is “Nightwatchmen,” based on a Giant idea to be adapted by screenwriter Jeff Maguire.

The company also has hired Victor Levin to write a comedy about youth soccer.

The project is designed to capitalize on the plans for the U.S. to host the 1994 World Cup soccer games.

Other projects include:

o “Chameleon Street.” Loosely based on Wendell Harris’ independent film of the same name and written by Howard Franklin, project is about a con man who assumes a series of personas to stay ahead of the FBI.

o “Ask the Dust.” An adaptation of John Fante’s 1939 novel, it’s about a young writer who, consumed by passion for an earthy Hispanic waitress, is forced to choose between his love for his craft and his love for her. Robert Towne is penning the script, which is anticipated to go into production at Warner Bros. later in 1993. Towne will direct.

o “True to Your School.” The film is Azoff’s 1993 answer to “Fast Time at Ridgemont Times,” which he produced in 1982. The project is about two students who, after learning their high school is going to be closed because of budget cuts, concoct a last-ditch plan to buy the school.

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