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‘Wind’ of change shakes Irish film

Dustin Hoffman’s Punch Prods. and Village Roadshow are upping the ante on a previous three-pic co-production deal, announcing a new joint venture called Punch 21 to make several bigger-budget pics.

The announcement was made in Los Angeles Monday by Punch’s prexy Lee Gottsegen and producer Jay Cohen and Village Roadshow president Greg Coote.

Among the new pics in development is “Life and Death on 10 West,” adapted by Elizabeth Anderson from the Eric Lax novel. Hoffman and Alicia Silverstone will star.

Also on tap, according to Coote, are “Viola d’Amore,” an 18th century story of a musical prodigy who must choose between a British suitor and her mentor, the composer Vivaldi; a pic based on the life of Alfred Stieglitz, centering on the photographer’s relationship with Georgia O’Keefe; and an untitled comedy to star Adam Sandler and Hoffman.

Other projects in development include pics in which Hoffman is to appear with Woody Harrelson, Denis Leary and Tea Leoni.

“We’ve developed a great deal of respect for each other and our abilities,” said Coote, who declined to set a specific budget range for the Punch 21 productions. The previously announced pics are in the $10 million range.

The group’s first film to go into production will be “The House of Mirth” (Daily Variety, Dec. 16, 1996). John Schlesinger will direct and Hoffman will star in the Ken Russell adaptation of the 1905 Edith Wharton novel.

The Wharton adaptation will be the first collaboration for Hoffman and Schlesinger since “Marathon Man.” They also worked together on “Midnight Cowboy.” Hoffman, Charles Evans Jr. and Carroll Kemp will co-produce.

Also in the works are the romantic comedy “Knees of a Cellist,” directed by Matthew Carnahan; and “The Blouse Man,” to be directed by Tony Goldwyn. Principal photography on “Cellist” is set for fall; “Blouse Man” is to shoot this summer.

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