TriStar develops full dance card for ’94-95

TriStar Pictures is quietly developing a full plate of prestige projects for production in 1994 and 1995, sources said Thursday.

With director Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia” headed to the theaters, sources said studio chairman Mike Medavoy, president Marc Platt and president of production Stacey Lassally have turned their sights toward filling out the 1994 and 1995 programs:

  • The studio has just closed a reported $ 1 million deal for the movie rights to Ludwig Bemelmans’ series of “Madeleine” children’s books. The studio and producer Allyn Stewart are reportedly in active negotiations with “Home Alone” director Chris Columbus to helm a movie about the little Paris school girl. Stewart will produce with Saul Cooper and Pancho Kohner. The property was once pursued by Steven Spielberg.

  • TriStar has opened up talks with director Paul Verhoeven to direct its potential big-budget “Starship Troopers,” which is based on the novel by Robert Heinlein. “RoboCop” screenwriter Edward Neumeier has adapted the novel for producer John Davidson. The project would follow Verhoeven’s work on the Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer “Crusade.”

  • After months of courting, TriStar has completed a deal with Sidney Poitier to direct and co-produce with Arthur Lee “The Golden 13.” Written by Steven Glantz and Caliope Brattlestreet, the project is about the first blacks trained to be officers in the U.S. Navy, the last integrated branch of the military.

The flurry of transactions follow reports of similar development deals with screenwriter David Williamson to adapt “Selling the War” for actor Dustin Hoffman’s Punch Prods., and Agnieszka Holland and Jean Yves Pitoun to adapt Nancy Taylor Rosenberg’s “Mitigating Circumstances” as a potential directing vehicle for Holland.

Producers on the studio lot said TriStar is pressing its advantage because the studio production team has solidified under president of production Lassally , under whose reign “Mary Reilly” was successfully assembled with director Stephen Frears and star Julia Roberts after years of setbacks. The project is skedded for release in 1994 or early 1995.

Pushing biggies

Beyond the development deals, TriStar executives are also pushing several biggies forward: An adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy,” producer Steven Spielberg and cinematographer-turned-director Mikael Salomon’s “Zorro” and a revamped version of “Godzilla.”

TriStar is attempting to finalize a deal with International Creative Management chairman Jeff Berg to put Jean-Jacques Annaud at the helm of “Foundation Trilogy.”

Five alive

Beyond the development deals, TriStar has five movies motoring toward preproduction, including the possible Barbra Streisand starrer “Mirror Has Two Faces,” Brett Leonard’s “Hideaway,” the Denzel Washington starrer “Devil in a Blue Dress” with “One False Move” director Carl Franklin at the helm, “Mary Reilly” and an untitled movie from “Sleepless in Seattle” director Nora Ephron with Steve Martin attached.