While Sony Corp. ended months of speculation about Peter Guber when he recently signed a five-year contract extension to continue as chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, there’s much discussion about where his former producing partner, Jon Peters, will hang his hat once his contract expires at the end of 1994.
There are reports that while Peters has quietly amassed a large development slate at Columbia, he could very well wind up back with his friend Terry Semel at Warner Bros. If that happened, it would likely be in the form of a joint financing venture in which Peters would raise part of his production budgets, WB the rest.
Even though Adam Fields, who heads Peters’ company, has been aggressively acquiring properties, Peters Entertainment has yet to get a project to the screen. Aside from “Mistress of the Seas,” which has been retooled to bring its below-the-line budget down from $ 50 million to a more reasonable $ 32 million, Peters Entertainment has “Fire Down Below,” with Steven Seagal pay or play; “Money Train,” an action adventure scripted by Doug Richardson and Larry Ferguson in which Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes might re-team; a Muhammad Ali biopic; and the John Gotti biopic “Gangland,” which Joe Eszterhas is scripting.
Peters Entertainment has spent as much as $ 20 million on more than 30 projects. In the last 10 days, Peters and Fields have bought rights to Lane Von Herzen’s upcoming novel “The Unfastened Heart,” described as a “Fried Green Tomatoes” meets “Joy Luck Club”; a script about Don Juan by Dewi Ongra and Robert De Luxembourg; and the rights to the life story of Al Stankie, a former cop and pro fighter who opened a gym in the L.A. barrio to keep troubled kids off the street. One of his finds was Olympic gold medalist Oscar de la Hoya. It will be scripted by Chris Cleveland, who’s doing “The Fountainhead” for WB’s Giant Pictures.
Still, Peters’ experience at Sony has been bittersweet; It was all glory at Warner Bros., where he and Guber brought in “Batman,””Rain Man” and other hits. They left a bunch of projects behind at WB, some of which Peters might inherit should he return. Nobody wanted to comment on this one.
DAY FOR APLA? The annual benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles, which last year honored Barbra Streisand and David Geffen, has become one of the most prestigious Hollywood events of the year. So what would be a more appropriate place for Doris Day to sing for the first time in more than 20 years? DISH hears that Day plans to do exactly that in this year’s fete, which will honor Disney honcho Jeff Katzenberg and first lady Hillary Clinton. Day’s spokeswoman denies it.
STEEL DEAL RUSTING? Just weeks ago Dawn Steel’s ascendancy to the top of Turner Pictures seemed so much a done deal that speculation about Dawn was beginning to elicit yawns. But DISH hears it’s taken so long that they’re beginning to think about other candidates, and that the Steel deal could go south, as in much further south than Atlanta.
Steel, who isn’t crazy about becoming an exec again after producing the hit “Cool Runnings,” would probably take the job if she had greenlight power and full autonomy to assemble an eclectic slate for Turner. She’d want to report to Ted Turner and DISH hears that’s created problems for Turner’s Atlanta-based top lieutenant, Scott Sassa, who’s doing the hiring.
Others said that Steel, who was single last time she headed a studio but now is married to producer Chuck Roven and has a young child, is unsure she wants to radically change her life by re-entering the exec suites. She’s got to make some kind of a decision shortly. Sassa declined comment, as did Steel.
STERN SHUN: Don’t hold your breath waiting for Howard Stern to become Fox’s late night savior. Sure, he met with Fox brass, which dangled a Chevy Chase-like package: the late night gig and a feature development deal. DISH hears Sternnixed the show, though he hasn’t ruled out a movie.
Stern’s now focused on his raunchy New Year’s Eve pay-per-view show that insiders estimate could make him $ 5 million and break PPV records, powered by a guest star list that might have Guy Lombardo spinning in his grave: Joey Buttafuoco, Heidi Fleiss, and even John Bobbitt, a celebrity by way of castration. Stern’s actively being courted for a movie by the likes of producers David Picker at Paramount and Ivan Reitman at Universal.
BICOASTAL? Is there room in New York for two formidable, tough-talking ladies named Elaine? Well, move over, Elaine Kaufman, owner of the venerable celeb eatery. Elaine Goldsmith, the ICM agent who reps Julia Roberts and Tim Robbins, has taken an apartment in Gotham and will spend at least
the next half-year based there, DISH hears. Why not? Much of her clientele now lives in New York, including Roberts and Robbins, along with Susan Sarandon and Spike Lee. Not insignificantly, so does her boyfriend, medical malpractice attorney Daniel Thomas.
MARTY’S MOVE? While it’s hardly clear which project Martin Scorsese will next direct, allow DISH to tell you what he won’t direct. It won’t be “Clockers,” which he’ll produce and Lee will direct, and it won’t be “Oceans of Storm,” Warren Beatty’s astronaut pic he wooed Scorsese to direct.
While it could be “The Gangs of New York,” which he’s developing with “Age of Innocence” co-conspirator Jay Cocks, Scorsese said it’s more likely to be one of the projects he’s working on with “Goodfellas” collaborator Nick Pileggi. Chief among them is a pic based on the life of his parents called “Neighborhood.” There are one or two others, neither of which Scorsese would disclose.