FIRST LOOK: “ER” star Eriq La Salle has formed Humble Journey Films and landed an exclusive first-look deal with Warner Bros. to develop features and telepics the actor will produce, direct and star in.
La Salle’s partners in the venture are D.J. Caruso and Butch Robinson and their first project push is “Angelina,” an action thriller that La Salle is scripting with Robinson. It’s a cross between “Jacob’s Ladder” and “The Professional,” in which a hitman comes up against the devil himself.
La Salle directed his first feature in HBO’s “Rebound: The Story of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault,” which aired last year. He financed, wrote and directed “Psalms From the Underground,” a well received short he hopes to turn into a feature, with Mel Gibson’s Icon mentioned in a possible linkup with La Salle.
La Salle’s teamup with Caruso and Robinson grew from “Rebound.” Caruso has executive produced several John Badham-directed films, including “Nick of Time,” “Drop Zone” and “Point of No Return.” Robinson produced the 1994 Gramercy film “Drop Squad.”
“We’d like the action thriller to be the first project we present to Warner Bros. as a feature,” said La Salle, who formed a studio-based company after frustrations encountered on “Psalms.” He switched the focus to “Angelina” because it’s a more commercial premise: “It’s this hitman on a journey who saves a little girl. There’s a lot of bloodshed, and the cool thing about the piece is that he encounters so many characters, it opens the door for a lot of really strong cameos.” La Salle is repped by Gersh’s Lorrie Bartlett.
NO “JEOPARDY” FOR JODIE: Jodie Foster Monday abruptly departed “Double Jeopardy,” the Par pic to be directed by Bruce Beresford. The exit was for personal reasons. The studio was scrambling for replacement strategies, with Helen Hunt looming as one possibility.
CAMPUS CONVERGENCE: In the wake of the whopping “Scream 2” grosses, studios are so bent on skewing young that they continue to raid college campuses for youth-oriented material. Just after TriStar wiped out the student loans of USC student/scribe Josh Schwartz by guaranteeing $550,000 for his autobiographical script “Providence” and a followup, the Paramount-based Mutual Film Co. has just optioned an article written by Bob Corbett while he was a senior at SMU.
While it’s a deal in the low six figures, that’s an awful lot of money for an article that ran in a campus newspaper. But Mutual thinks it’s the perfect spring-board to make the female version of “Animal House.” Corbett got hold of a sorority rush manual (by way of a rival sorority) that divulged the carefully guarded secrets of hazing and other unpleasantries. He published it in the SMU Student Voice and lampooned it, incurring the wrath of the sisters.
Mutual will hatch a fictionalized version of his story, with the lead character’s social and personal life systematically ruined after he writes the article.
Mutual’s Michael Dahan brought in the article and prexy Allison Segan made the deal. Corbett was repped by Original Artists’ Jordan Bayer and Matt Leipzig as well as Lisa Santos of Baumgarten-Prophet Entertainment.
ANGIE ROCKS: Angie Everheart, the model turned actress, is huddling to join the cast of the post-Super Bowl episode of “3rd Rock From the Sun.” She’ll play a brainy Venusian, an outer-space species of long-legged beauties from Planet Venus who’ve invaded Earth to fleece the male population of their wealth.
While the role’s glamorous, Everheart’s out to be taken seriously in her new career, even cutting her auburn hair for a starring role alongside Malcolm McDowell in “The Gardener,” an action film directed by James Hickox. She’s also starring alongside Maria Conchita Alonso and Jay Richardson in “Dillinger in Paradise.” She’s pulled double duty for director Adam Rifkin, playing herself in his mock documentary “Welcome to Hollywood,” and taking a role in a drama about monogamy Rifkin wrote and directed, “Denial.”
HARGITAY TARGETED BY DREAMWORKS: “ER” continues to be a hatching place for TV talent. The latest to benefit is Mariska Hargitay, currently appearing in a 14-episode arc as Anthony Edwards’ love interest. She has made a six-figure deal to develop a half-hour sitcom which would shoot in the spring for a possible fall 1998 berth.
Hargitay, who’s repped by UTA and More-Medavoy Management, also has appeared in CBS’ “Can’t Hurry Love” and NBC’s “Prince Street.”