Fleder has ‘Heart’

Helmer to develop Lakeshore's Joplin biopic

“Kiss the Girls” helmer Gary Fleder has signed on to Lakeshore Entertainment’s Janis Joplin biopic “Piece of My Heart,” which Paramount Pictures will distribute domestically.

Fleder is at least the third helmer to be attached to the project, which has been in development for over two years at Lakeshore.

“Murder in the First” helmer Marc Rocco was originally set to direct. Last September Lakeshore brought in Stephen Gyllenhaal, who had directed the company’s “Home Grown.”

A competing Joplin biopic, with actress Lili Taylor and director Nancy Savoca attached, was put into turnaround last year by TriStar Pictures.

Scripted by Rocco, Julie Cypher, Jerry Leicthling and Arlene Sarner, “Heart” will be produced by Cypher and Lakeshore topper Tom Rosenberg. Lakeshore’s Ted Tannebaum will exec produce.

Lakeshore, which now hopes to shoot the picture next spring, projects a budget of $35 million-$40 million.

So far, however, no one has been cast to play Joplin, the raspy-voiced blues singer who died at the age of 27 in 1970. Rocker Melissa Etheridge was previously set to make her screen debut in the picture, singing Joplin’s songs herself.

With the competing project now dormant, however, the producers may be in a better position to obtain rights to Joplin’s original recordings, which would allow them to use a proven actress in the lead role.

Fleder, who has been in talks with Lakeshore about “Heart” for months, has committed only to develop the project, according to his ICM agent. Simultaneously, he is developing Par’s “Along Came a Spider,” a sequel to “Kiss the Girls.” It’s not clear which of the two films, if either, will be his next directing job.

Fleder recently completed the sci-fi thriller “Impostor” starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Phil Hawn, Jennifer Lopez, Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe and Tony Shaloub. He also directed episode nine of Tom Hanks’ HBO series “From Earth to the Moon.”

Fleder made his feature directorial debut with “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead.” His TV credits include two episodes of “Homicide: Life on the Street” and HBO’s “Tales From the Crypt.”

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