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LEE PLANS ‘TO LIVE ON’

Having tackled the sexual politics of 19th-century England and 20th-century Manhattan, Ang Lee may next tackle the politics of the Old West.

The critically acclaimed director is set to bring Daniel Woodrell’s novel “Woe To Live On” to the bigscreen for Fox. James Schamus will adapt the novel, and he will produce the pic, along with Ted Hope, as the first installment in the duo’s first-look deal at Fox. Sources familiar with the deal said Lee wants to make the pic his next project and Schamus is meant to start writing immediately.

The script, which will be titled “To Live On,” is set during the denouement and aftermath of the Civil War in the border states of Missouri and Kansas. Those states were wrestling with whether to become free or slave states, and the men fighting there were irregulars and renegades.

Schamus and Hope, through their company Good Machine, are longtime Lee collaborators. Schamus was a co-producer on “Sense and Sensibility,” and he and Hope have worked with the director on his films “Eat Drink Man Woman” and “The Wedding Banquet,” as well as the upcoming Fox Searchlight release “Ice Storm,” which stars Sigourney Weaver.

Schamus originally brought the book “Woe To Live On” to the attention of Fox Searchlight prexy Lindsay Law, but the period piece would be too costly for the specialized division. Because Lee, Hope and Schamus have a longstanding relationship with Fox president of production Tom Rothman, who distributed several Lee films when he was at the Samuel Goldwyn Co., they set up the pic with him.

Good Machine’s deal allows for it to produce with several divisions at the studio, and “Woe” will be a Fox production with VP Peter Rice overseeing the project. Creative Artists Agency’s Tory Metzger repped Lee on the deal.

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