Hellman inks for ‘Freaky’

Film icon Monte Hellman has been tapped by Miramax to write and direct a film version of Elmore Leonard’s 1988 thriller “Freaky Deaky,” with Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender exec producing.

The project, which has been in the works for over a year, marks Hellman’s return to the director’s chair after almost a decade-long absence.

The critically acclaimed helmer of such cult favorites as “Two-Lane Blacktop” and “The Shooting” hasn’t made a film since the 1989 direct-to-video horror sequel “Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 3: Better Watch Out.”

“Freaky,” which spent 11 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, focuses on a pair of bomb-making ’60s throwbacks and their plot to blackmail two rich ex-hippies.

Hellman’s longtime partner Barry Cooper is producing; Jon Gordon, Miramax VP of production, will oversee the project for the minimajor.

Tarantino has long been a champion of Hellman’s, at one time citing his 1965 western “Ride in the Whirlwind” (co-produced, written by and starring Jack Nicholson) as among the greatest films of all time.

Hellman, whose credits also include “China 9, Liberty 37” (1978) and “Iguana” (1988), executive produced Tarantino’s feature directorial debut, “Reservoir Dogs.”

Cooper, a former surgeon, produced the 1982 film “The Return of the Soldier” starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson, and exec produced the 1991 silent film “The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez.”

Leonard has written more than 30 novels, about a dozen of which have been made into movies. The most commercially successful adaptation to date has been the Barry Sonnenfeld-helmed “Get Shorty,” which grossed $72.1 million in its 1995 MGM/UA release.

Tarantino himself is currently directing an Leonard adaptation for Miramax: “Jackie Brown,” based on the novelist’s “Rum Punch,” which is scheduled for a Christmas Day release.

Attorney Kelly Crabbe of Dewey, Ballantine negotiated the deal on behalf of Hellman and Cooper.

Tarantino and Bender were repped by Mike Simpson and Lee Stollman of the William Morris Agency and attorney Carlos Goodman of Lichter, Grossman.

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