×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

KRANE TAKES BULL BY HORNS

Under a new two-year first-look deal he’s signed with Laura Ziskin’s Fox 2000, Jonathan Krane will produce five projects, including an adaptation of Peter Maas’ bestselling bio of mobster Sammy (The Bull) Gravano and two vehicles for John Travolta.

Krane will begin work immediately with “Serpico” author Maas to find a screenwriter for “Underboss,” the story of hit man Gravano, underboss of Gambino crime family head and “Teflon Don” John Gotti.

While Budd Schulberg pondered the question “What Makes Sammy Run,” Maas discovered what made him rat. Gravano’s testimony against his crime cohorts led to a life sentence for Gotti, and crippled organized crime across the country. Fox 2000’s Ziskin and exec veep Kevin McCormick quietly optioned the HarperCollins book recently, and promptly gave it to Krane.

“It’s the death of the Italian Mafia, an organization based on the principal of loyalty, honor and values, and how when Gravano felt Gotti wasn’t following the rules, he turned on him,” Krane said.

Brought in by Ziskin and Fox president Bill Mechanic, Krane has one of the most enviable jobs in town: producing movies while managing one high-profile star — John Travolta.

Though he’s got 33 films under his belt as producer, it has been a bumpy road. A Yale grad who chucked an international tax law practice 16 years ago to partner with director Blake Edwards, Krane quickly became a formidable manager and producer, building Management Co. Entertainment Group into a company that repped 150 clients and produced several pics.

The expansion frenzy of the late ’80s led to an ill-fated buy of the distribbery Virgin Vision, and the debt load crippled his company. “MCEG might still be around if it wasn’t for Virgin Vision, but here I went to having the administrative burden of 500 employees instead of 200, and it was too much,” he recalled.

“I’d rather produce and devote my time to career guidance for John without diluting my efforts,” Krane said.

Though Travolta’s not involved in the Fox 2000 deal, Fox brass obviously are hopeful he’ll act in some projects hatched by the Krane Group.

For his part, Krane is negotiating with “Mask” scribe Anna Hamilton Phelan on a musical he hopes Travolta will want to do. Krane also has brought over from MGM the L. Ron Hubbard sci-fi novel “Battlefield Earth,” which Travolta has long wanted to star in.

“John’s definitely going to make that picture, it’s his passion project,” said Krane, who’ll produce with Travolta and is negotiating with Corey Mandel to adapt. “It has nothing to do with Scientology; this is one of the best sci-fi stories ever. … This one is like the sequel to ‘Independence Day’ if we had lost.”

Krane also takes under his wing “Dark Horse,” the political thriller by “Money Train” co-writer Doug Richardson that Krane will produce with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Robert Shapiro. Fox 2000 bought that project last year when Travolta was a candidate to play the novel’s ultra-evil gubernatorial aspirant Shakespeare McCann.

Richardson will deliver his script soon and Krane hopes to have a director in place quickly. Krane also is producing “Fly,” a biopic about Mel Stewart, the Olympic gold medalist in the butterfly swimming competish. “He started when he was 5, swimming at the YMCA all day to escape a destructive home life,” Krane said. Joel Silverman, who scripted the MGM film “Curve” for Krane, has been hired to write it.

Krane’s nonexclusive deal allows him to continue producing other pics — many for Travolta — at other studios. He also keeps Krane Classics — a shingle for self-financed low-budget films for which he sells distribution rights. For instance, he’s now in Cannes selling “Lay of the Land,” a film starring his wife, Sally Kellerman.

Travolta moves directly from “Primary Colors” to Touchstone’s “A Civil Action,” but Krane’s already lining up offers for next year. The prime candidates are a Disney-based biopic of crooner Jimmy Roselli, which George Gallo has scripted and which Krane produces with Beverly Camhe; the Larry Ferguson-scripted Warner Bros. Western “Have Gun Will Travel,” with “Fugitive” director Andy Davis (Krane produces with Robert Shapiro); TriStar has offered him the lead in the Lasse Halstrom-directed adaptation of the Annie Proulx novel “The Shipping News”; WB has offered the lead in its adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera;” Fox 2000 wants him for the Lili Fini Zanuck-directed “Digger’s Game.” Down the road, WB and director Joel Schumacher are talking to him about playing the next big Bat villain, Scarecrow, in the next film in that series.

WIND DANCER HITS PITCH: Wind Dancer Films prexy Susan Cartsonis and vice president Melissa Goddard have acquired the pitch “Redemption” by scribes Steve Morris and Robin Shephard, who recently sold “The Beth Ex Club” to Zoetrope and Columbia. It’s the story of a former ’60s radical turned police officer who teams with the son of a man he killed 30 years earlier. Wind Dancer will produce with BallPark Prods. head Michael Schiffer, who wrote “Crimson Tide” and “Peacemaker.” The scribes were repped by Richard Green and Howard Sanders of UTA and Schiffer repped by CAA’s Justin Connelly.

DISHINGS: Though a Disney sequel plan for “Pretty Woman” fell apart, Dish hears that Universal’s dream is to reteam Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in a remake of “To Catch a Thief.” … Now that James Belushi was forced to drop out of “Blues Brothers 2000” because of a series commitment, sources say director John Landis might change the racial composition of the Blues crew: He wants Charles S. Dutton to join Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman in the pic … Endeavor has signed screenwriter Ellen Simon, daughter of playwright Neil. Her script credits include “Moonlight and Valentino,” “One Fine Day,” and “Homesick,” a DreamWorks project for Steven Spielberg. She’s now writing the comedy “The Sponge” for Fox 2000 and producer Erwin Stoff.

More Voices

  • FX Confronts Streaming Thanks to Disney

    Kicking and Screaming, FX Is Forced to Confront Future in the Stream (Column)

    During his network’s presentation at the winter Television Critics Assn. press tour, FX chief John Landgraf made waves — and headlines — by mounting perhaps his most direct criticism yet of Netflix. Landgraf, whose briefings to the press tend to rely heavily on data about the volume of shows with which FX’s competitors flood the [...]

  • Longtime TV Editor Recalls Working for

    How a Bad Director Can Spoil the Show (Guest Column)

    I have been blessed with editing some of TV’s greatest shows, working with some of the industry’s greatest minds. “The Wonder Years,” “Arrested Development,” “The Office,” “Scrubs,” “Pushing Daisies” and, most recently, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I have earned an Emmy, ACE Eddie Awards, and many nominations. But whatever kudos I’ve received, over my [...]

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. The record level of spending [...]

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to write about diversity in Hollywood because “diversity” — in front of and behind the camera [...]

  • Venice Film Festival A Star is

    How Venice, Toronto and Telluride Festivals Stole Cannes' Luster (Column)

    In all the years I’ve been attending film festivals, I have never seen a lineup that looked as good on paper as Venice’s did this fall, boasting new films by Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Damien Chazelle (“First Man”), Paul Greengrass (“22 July”), Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”) and the Coen brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) in competition, [...]

  • Black Women in Medicine BTS

    Hollywood Needs to Include People With Disabilities on Both Sides of the Camera (Guest Column)

    In five years, nothing has changed. Despite open calls for greater diversity and inclusion, recent research shows that there was little change in the number of characters with disabilities in popular films in 2017. A study conducted by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content