Sydney Pollack has agreed to develop the Columbia drama “The Ice Queen,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a drug enforcement agent cum female James Bond, sources said. The studio hopes the presence of Pollack will thaw “Ice,” which has frosted over in development hell.
Pollack already has brought in Jeff King, who did Fox’s “Josiah’s Canon,” to write a new draft of the troublesome script. The project has been a high priority since Columbia made a deal in 1994, buying rights to the life of DEA agent Heidi Landgraf along with a Working Woman article about her.
The project was set up by John Davis’ Davis Entertainment in conjunction with Pfeiffer’s Via Rosa producing partner Kate Guinzberg and Lord/Weaver Prods.’ Tony Lord and Matt Weaver.
Pfeiffer has long been touted to play Landgraf, a beautiful blonde who raised a family while living a double life as a glamorous drug queenpin. Her cover was Heidi Herrera, daughter of a retired Mexican drug smuggler who fearlessly set up drug deals across the world. She was the centerpiece of a federal operation code-named Green Ice, which led to jail sentences for 200 people and $50 million in recovered loot.
The producers hoped to turn her story into the DEA version of “Top Gun,” but have been stuck in the hangar because of the script. The studio hired Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, who jointly drafted the Pfeiffer film “Up Close and Personal.” Their “Ice Queen” draft however, was little more than fodder for Dunne’s book “Monster,” about his screenwriting frustrations.
Pollack currently is co-starring with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in the Stanley Kubrick film “Eyes Wide Shut,” which is shooting in the U.K.
SINGLETON SWEET ON ‘GOLDDIGGAZ’? While John Singleton was booked to direct the remake of “Shaft” at MGM and produce the comedy “Golddiggaz” at Universal, Dish hears he’s leaning toward a delay of “Shaft” and directing the U comedy first. MGM and Singleton are at odds over the budget Singleton will need to do the movie. MGM wants him to bring back the Man Who Would Risk His Neck for His Brother Man and is a sex-machine with all the chicks: The studio just wants Singleton to do it economically.
MGM expected to be casting shortly, but short of getting Will Smith, the studio would rather delay than pay a budget north of $20 million. Singleton’s shopping the script around, but he’s also talking about stepping behind the camera of “Golddiggaz,” a comedy about three women who attempt to marry three NBA hoopsters.
The film was supposed to be directed by first-timers Kimberly Greene and Camille Tucker, who wrote the script with Singleton and who collaborated on the short “Sweet Potato Ride.” If Singleton and U alter the deal, some might say it’d be these ladies who get the shaft. MGM wouldn’t comment.
FROM “HOWSER” TO “RENT”: It’s beginning to look like playing the lead in “Doogie Howser, M.D.” will be just an item on a resume as opposed to a whole career for Neil Patrick Harris. The young actor has just landed a lead role for the West Coast run of the Broadway hit “Rent.” Harris, who just completed roles in the films “Shakespeare’s Sister” and “Starship Troopers,” will play the role of Mark, the filmmaker who narrates the show. He’ll start in July at the La Jolla Playhouse and will topline when “Rent” hits L.A. in September at the Ahmanson Theater. He’s repped by ICM’s Steve Dontanville and manager Booh Schut.
WHOOPI GOES THE SERIES ROUTE — SORT OF: While numerous stars are attached to series hoping for fall airdates, the biggest star to commit to a proposed series has gone virtually unnoticed — Whoopi Goldberg. She’s committed to Columbia/TriStar’s “Ruby” for UPN, which just did a presentation of the show. The star is David Faustino (“Married … With Children”) with Goldberg providing the voice for the title character — a diva puppet, styled like the Chris Rock-voiced Little Penny character in Penny Hardaway’s basketball shoe commercials. The show would be exec produced by David Permut, David Caplan and Brian LaPan. Permut produced the Goldberg pic “Eddie.”
FAMILIAR NAME IN “TRANSIT”: Michael Corrente, best known for directing “Federal Hill” and “American Buffalo,” has been spending most of his time lately producing. He and wife, Libby Langdon, put together “Strangers in Transit,” an indie pic about a guy who matches a female friend with a male pal. When they fall in love and make wedding plans, he figures out he’s in love with the woman. Brad Kane wrote the script and is directing in Rhode Island. Langdon (“Federal Hill”) stars with Daniel Lapaine (“Muriel’s Wedding”), Nicky Katt (“subUrbia”), Justine Bateman, Megan Ward (“Party of Five”), Gil Bellows and Rya Kihlstedt. Corrente, who raised the money for the pic and hopes to set it up when shooting’s done, described it as a low-budget effort “that’s turned into an exciting little romantic comedy that doesn’t look like it was shot through a tea bag.”
SEUSS SELLING: Hank Saperstein, last seen making the Godzilla movie deal for Toho with TriStar and engineering a megabuck rights deal with Disney’s David Vogel for “Mr. Magoo,” is back. This time he’s hatching a live-action version of the Dr. Seuss-created “Gerald McBoing Boing,” the Oscar-winning ’50s cartoon character who didn’t talk, through his UPA Prods. He described it as a “satire about people who ostracize those who don’t communicate conventionally. The importance is nourishing and relating to young children, and this franchise will go to the studio that shows me the most creativity and social consciousness.” Saperstein’s repped by attorney Stan Coleman.
DISHINGS: Banner Entertainment, managing clients and producing films, has named Matt Freeman vice president of production and Eric Suddleson VP and general counsel. Freeman had been development director at Wild Things Prods. … Writers & Artists have signed rap’s hottest commodity, Snoop Doggy Dogg, with agents Larry Kennar and Norman Aladjem repping him for film, TV and book opportunities … The Gersh Agency continues to bolster its Gotham operation, landing Stephen Hirsh from Paradigm. He takes with him a list of up-and-coming talent, including Kim Dickens (“Zero Effect”), Amanda Peet (“She’s the One”), and Nicole Parker (“Boogie Nights).