Walt Disney has made a deal with Sting to compose songs for “Kingdom of the Sun,” a new animated film project that will topline the voice of David Spade, sources said.
Singer/songwriter Sting joins the studio’s high-profile rock hires such as Elton John (wrote music for the studio’s most successful animated pic ever, “The Lion King,” which grossed over $300 million) and Phil Collins, who’s penned tunes for the upcoming “Tarzan.”
Though the “Sun” plot is being kept under wraps, sources said it is a new take on “The Prince and the Pauper.” Spade will provide the voice of Manco, a prince who bears on his arm the mark of the sun. He meets a llama herder named Pancha, who’s identical to Manco except for the mark. The two agree to trade places.
An evil sorceress — to be voiced by Eartha Kitt — discovers the switch and turns Manco into a llama so she can take over the kingdom, knowing the impostor is powerless to stop her.
Carla Gugino, who just got the female lead in “Snake Eyes,” is also in talks to provide a voice. Roger Allers (who co-directed “The Lion King”) and Mark Dindal will co-helm “Kingdom”; Randy Fullmer produces.
Don Hahn (“The Lion King”) is exec producer. The film has no firm release date, but will fall somewhere after next summer’s “Mulin” and the fall Pixar film “A Bug’s Life.”
Spade is starring with Marlon Wayans in the Miramax film “Senseless,” and is about to start production on the Lyndall Hobbs-directed indie pic “Jane” with Melanie Griffith and possibly Howard Stern.
In the fall, the thesp segues to the first full season of NBC’s “Just Shoot Me,” on which he co-stars with Laura San Giacomo and George Segal. The sitcom is being brought back on Tuesday nights after a six-episode run last season.
“Kingdom of the Sun” will be his second animated film — Spade has just completed the “Rugrats” film for Nickelodeon and Paramount. He also will start work on “Lost & Found,” a script he wrote and will star in under his two-picture deal for Live Entertainment. He’s repped by Endeavor.
STICKING WITH TOONS: David Zippel, who composed the lyrics on Disney’s current animated offering “Hercules,” has begun working with composer Matthew Wilder on Disney’s toon feature for next summer, the China-set “Mulin,” which stars the voice of Eddie Murphy.
Zippel won Tony Awards for “City of Angels” and “The Goodbye Girl,” and just agreed to work with Cy Coleman writing the lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “A Star Is Born.” But after “Hercules,” he’s hooked on animated fare.
“For a lyricist, this is by far the best job in Hollywood,” said Zippel. “Animation today is what Broadway was in the ’50s and ’60s.” Zippel had Jason Alexander and others sing his tunes at the Cinegrill, an exercise that will be repeated this fall to benefit the Reprise Theater Co. He’s repped by the Kraft Benjamin Agency.
SINGER ‘FIGURES’ INTO U PIC: Randi Mayem Singer (“Mrs. Doubtfire”) has signed on to script “Father Figure,” a film to be directed by Brad Silberling at Universal, with Brillstein-Grey Entertainment producing. The film’s about a businessman who marries for the second time and finds himself the father of a newborn for the first time in 30 years. He must deal with getting used to fatherhood again and his resentful grown daughter.
Pic was hatched in a pitch by exec producer Danelle Black, Tom Nunan and Silberling. Silberling followed his helming success “Casper” with “City of Angels,” which stars Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. Singer’s repped by Bruce Kaufman of Broder, Kurland, Webb and Uffner, and Silberling by Endeavor. It’s the second major scribe hire for B-G, which landed Joel and Ethan Coen to adapt Elmore Leonard’s “Cuba Libre.”
UPONDERS ‘THING’: Days after producer Harry Ufland was given back the Karen Croner-scripted adaptation of Anna Quindlen’s novel “One True Thing” from Fox 2000 (Daily Variety, July 17), Dish hears there’s serious talk that the project could land at Universal. Renee Zellweger and Meryl Streep are poised to star for director Carl Franklin in the story of a daughter who returns home to care for her terminally ill mother.
Jessie Beaton will also produce. Stay tuned.
LETHAL PAIRING: While Sammy (The Bull) Gravano was forced in court to divulge he was indeed getting money for “Underboss,” the HarperCollins bestseller he “wrote” with Peter Maas, Gravano’s apparently going to have no creative involvement in a feature version that’s quickly gaining steam at Fox 2000. Sources said that director Stephen Frears and screenwriter Donald Westlake are considering joining together on the project, as they did in their stylish 1990 noir “The Grifters.”
The project’s being shepherded at Fox 2000 by producer Jonathan Krane under his deal there. Dish hears Gravano called the studio to try and become involved. He was ignored. Aside from whatever financial arrangement Gravano got in the publishing deal, he’ll have as little control over the movie as John Gotti will if Columbia and Jon Peters ever get moving on “Gangland,” the Howard Blum book about Gotti that Joe Eszterhas adapted a couple of years ago.
HEARD ON THE GRAPEVINE: John Heard, about to open alongside Samuel L. Jackson in “187,” has just landed a co-starring role in Brian DePalma’s “Snake Eyes,” starring Nicolas Cage and Gary Sinise. Heard, last seen in “My Fellow Americans,” was repped by ICM’s Toni Howard and Sue Leibman. He’s managed by Lisa Loosemore.