Keitel preps pic push

NEW YORK — After performing the riskiest of roles in films like “Bad Lieutenant” and “The Piano,” Harvey Keitel is close to getting several equally offbeat films financed under his Goatsingers production banner.

With partner Peggy Gormley, he is in the midst of a deal for Lina Wertmuller to direct Keitel and French actor Daniel Auteuil in her script “An Interesting State,” a film they hope to have ready for a winter start.

That will be followed by “It’s Me, the Hero,” another pic Keitel will star in, which the Goatsingers topper said is also nearly financed. It’s scripted by Srdjan Dragojevic and Momcilo Mrdrakovic, who will co-direct early next year in New York and Russia.

“It’s about the hopes and aspirations of immigrants from Russia to New York, and the reality they encounter when they come to this city,” Keitel said. “Like my parents, they were promised streets paved with gold, but they encountered something else when they got here.”

Actor Paul Calderone, a Keitel pal seen in “Cuba and His Teddy Bear” and “King of New York,” will make his directing debut on his script “Divine Horseman” for Keitel’s company. Keitel describes the pic as “an investigation of machismo in the Latino community and the struggle of the Puerto Rican underclass.”

Keitel is set to pull a week’s tour of work in Vietnam for “Three Seasons,” a film by writer-director Tony Bui that Keitel is exec producing. It will be produced by Jason Lkiot and Joana Vicente of Open City Films for October Films.

Goatsingers is also working with the Irish Film Board and Dublin-based Parallel Films to fund “Johnny Jump Up,” with Jared Harris starring and Kieron Walsh directing.

Keitel and Gormley are working with HBO NYC on “Henry and the Second Gunman,” with Tom Leopold adapting his novel, and Keitel starring. It’s about a young boy who, after the Kennedy assassination, directs his anxiety toward the second gunman theory, and thinks he’s found the guy.

Not yet set up is the Goatsingers project “John and Rose,” which was scripted by theater director Lee Breuer, a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant. Though Goatsingers is actively trying to pull together the financing, it might be a daunting task. John is a character played by Keitel, Rose is his dog — and his lover. The dog narrates. Keitel calls the film a metaphor for obsessive love. Peter Newman, who with Greg Johnson produced the Keitel starrer “Smoke” and the upcoming “Lulu on the Bridge,” is helping to set it up.

“It’s avant-garde, highly experimental. While there’s been a slew of movies where owners inhabit the bodies of their pets, there’s been nothing like this,” Newman understated.

Keitel makes no apologies for turning out a slate with no film concepts that could serve as the next “Die Hard.” While he acted extensively for the last two years in films financed by Miramax, his own projects got no greenlights under his first-look deal there, and so he moved it to Fox Searchlight. That studio hasn’t yet said yes yet either.

“We’d like to be on common ground with studios, but we differ in that we’re not just out to make money, but to tell stories that nourish our lives,” said Keitel. With studios not jumping, Keitel and Gormley have opened up finance lines in Europe, where many of his films are better received.

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