Sony reels in exclusive Bass deal

Oscar winner Ron Bass has signed a three-year, exclusive writing deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment that will also move the scribe into new territory: producing other scripters’ pics. The deal officially takes effect in January.

Bass has three other outstanding writing obligations to fulfill prior to assuming his Sony responsibilities: He is writing DreamWorks’ “Mozart and the Whale,” the story of a highly functioning autistic couple; adapting “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” also set up at DreamWorks; and penning a project for Jerry Zucker, who has a first-look deal at Universal.

Pics Bass has been working on recently include a collaboration with director Scott Hicks on Universal Pictures’ screen adaptation of “Snow Falling on Cedars,” currently in pre-production, and the heist pic “Entrapment” at 20th Century Fox.

Bass likes ‘flexibility’

“I’ve wanted to do this for years,” Bass told Daily Variety. “I always thought if I could find the right people, it would be great. The flexibility will be a lot of fun. This deal allows me to do things that I couldn’t do before because of my schedule as a writer on my own material.”

Bass’ relationship with Sony began about a year ago when he entered into a first-look deal with TriStar. Former TriStar execs Marc Platt and Stacey Snider started negotiating Bass’ deal and former TriStar president Bob Cooper sealed the deal and then began adding projects for Bass to write at Sony.

The Sony relationship yielded several projects for Bass, including the Julia Roberts vehicle “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” which has so far grossed an estimated $69.5 million domestically, and “Step Mom,” which Bass is rewriting. “Step Mom” will go before the camera in September with Chris Columbus directing and Roberts and Susan Sarandon starring.

Sony connections

Bass has previously worked with the current studio management, including Sony president and chief operating officer John Calley, and execs Gareth Wigan, Lucy Fisher, Amy Pascal, Chris Lee and Amy Baer.

In fact, when Bass, a Harvard law grad, began his career as an attorney, he worked in the law office of the late Gary Handler and was the lawyer who drafted Calley’s contract release from Warner Bros. in 1980 (although he didn’t know Calley personally).

“One of our goals here at Sony is to convince the best, most creative filmmaking talent that this is the place to be,” said Calley in making the announcement. “Having Ron decide to make Sony his home is like signing a top draft choice.

“We are genuinely excited to have someone of his immense talent and capabilities writing and producing exclusively for us, and we hope he is only the first of many to join our team.”

Bass, who won an Academy Award for co-writing “Rain Man,” was repped in the deal by Creative Artists Agency’s Beth Swofford and attorney Alan Wertheimer.

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