The Bubble Factory is close to deals with “First Wives Club” stars Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn to reteam in the comedy “Living Legends.” A deal is expected to be sealed shortly.
The holdup is unusual: A source said the Bubble Factory jumped at the project, and committed $10 million in salaries for the two actresses to be split between them. Now the actresses and their reps are trying to figure out who makes what. It’s not a horrible problem: Even if they split it in half, the $5 million paydays will be career bests for both resurgent actresses, sources added.
“Living Legends” has touches of “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Scripted by Bob Hilgenberg and Rob Muir, pic will cast the ac-tresses as estranged sisters who pose as their deceased aunt and uncle — a major vaudeville team — to get their inheritance. Over the course of their scam, they get the chance to patch up their relationship. But they have a hard time getting out of the act once they become a hit team. Keaton, currently up for an Oscar for “Marvin’s Room,” is expected to play the drag role.
Keaton and Hawn will produce the film along with Bubble Factory triumvirate Sid, Bill and Jon Sheinberg. The Bubble boys have shown lately that they’re willing to pay for talent. They underwrote a $16 million payday for Tim Allen, who’ll begin shooting “For Richer or Poorer” with Bryan Spicer in April. And they’re generating good word of mouth on “That Old Feeling,” the comedy opening shortly with the third member of the “First Wives” cast, Bette Midler.
COMIC COP IN TRANSIT: Not since Roseanne swapped being a housewife for playing one on TV has there been anyone like John DiResta, a New York City transit cop who has just landed a high six-figure deal with Disney and ABC to develop an autobiographical sitcom he’ll star in. Trouble is, in order for DiResta to play a transit cop on TV, he’s going to have to give up his real career. Given the long odds of becoming a hit or even getting a real se-ries commitment, that’s a gamble for the son of a retired fireman who constantly pounded into his son the value of a civil servant’s pension and benefits.
“I’ve been a transit cop 10-1/2 years and you need 15 to get the pension, but I’m quitting,” said DiResta, who got considerable interest from networks and studios because of his one man off-Broadway show, “Beat: A Subway Cop’s Comedy,” which he performs eight times a week. Actually, he’ll try to hedge his bet by asking for an ex-tended leave of absence.
He won’t hate hanging up his badge. DiResta said being a cop is a dangerous business, though he admits that in a detail where his primary duty is escorting homeless people out of subways and into shelters, the most perilous part of the job is chaperoning “a stinker,” a client who hasn’t bathed in a long time, forcing him to drive with the win-dows open. DiResta never wanted to be a cop, and especially not a transit cop, which, to hear him tell it, is the un-wanted stepchild of law enforcement.
Such selfless public service has allowed him to glimpse up close the nocturnal subway world that sparks his com-edy and will be the focus of the show.
His life was interesting enough to hook Disney TV topper Dean Valentine and ABC’s Jamie Tarses, who brought him into the fold. “I figure, if this doesn’t work, something else in this business will for me,” said DiResta, who’s taking steps to relocate for his big shot. “It’s amazing how people react,” he said. “When I told (my landlord) I needed to break the last few months of my lease, he said he expected Disney to negotiate a settlement of the lease.” The comic cop is repped by UTA’s Ruthanne Secunda and managed by Abrams Gentile Ent.
WILD ABOUT WEST: Robert Conrad, who starred in the original “Wild, Wild West,” phoned to give his take on a Dish report two weeks ago that director Barry Sonnenfeld wanted his “Men in Black” star Will Smith to play James T. West in the Warner Bros. movie version. “Did Will fly the plane in ‘Independence Day’? I don’t think so,” the venerable tough guy said. “There are three stars who did their own stunts: Fairbanks, Conrad, and Jackie Chan. I think West should be played by Jackie Chan.”
Conrad said he’ll survive if Smith gets cast, which is good, since a deal seems to be firming up (Daily Variety, March 5). “I had no problem letting go of women, old shows, wardrobe. I don’t live in the past,” he said. “Just get the movie cast and shot and maybe I’ll go and maybe I won’t.” The pic’s producers, Jon Peters, Tracy Glaser, Joel Simon, Bill Todman and Kim LeMasters, might consider casting Conrad as Ulysses S. Grant, who sent the Secret Service men undercover to tame the West in the original series.
DISHINGS: Marlon Brando has exited ICM, though it wasn’t clear late Wednesday if he was jumping to another percentery … Two states are in advanced states of development as movies. At DreamWorks, buzz is building on the script “Arkansas” by Kathy McWorter, with a rewrite by Scott Frank, about a sharecropper in the 1800s who falls out with his boss, then inherits the farm next door and empties an orphanage in order to run it. The script is generating heat because it’s one of the films “Shine” director Scott Hicks is considering for his next film ( “The Se-cret History,” is also in the running.) The other state-themed pic is “Montana,” a Republic Pictures project that will be directed by Jennifer Leitzes and will star Kyra Sedgwick and Stanley Tucci. She’s a hit woman, he’s her ailing boyfriend. Together, they have to find out who’s trying to rub out her mobster boss.