Horseshoe ramps up slate

Hires Beckett into veep slot, increases number of projects

Horseshoe Bay Prods., the Hollywood Pictures-based partnership between producer Gary Foster and writer-director Mark Steven Johnson, has hired a new executive and set up several new projects.

The latest deal is “Stand-By,” a pitch by Rodney Vaccaro, whose script “Three to Tango” is in production at Warner Bros. with Matthew Perry and Neve Campbell.

“Stand-By” is described as a romantic comedy that takes place on airplanes and in an airport during a hellish Christmas break. Two people, stranded and trying to get home, come out of the experience falling in love. The project was brought in by Horseshoe Bay prexy Josie Rosen, with the writer repped by Gersh’s Richard Arlook.

Horseshoe Bay was set up at Hollywood by David Vogel shortly after the Walt Disney Pictures topper was given the OK to revive Hollywood with a slate of adult-themed movies.

Foster and Johnson have just hired Julie Beckett as vice president, after she served as a Disney creative exec and worked on such films as “Flubber” and “Inspector Gadget.”

Movie madness

The partners have a flurry of current activity. Johnson has finished writing and directing “Simon Birch,” his adaptation of the John Irving novel “A Prayer for Owen Meaney,” which will be the first release for the new Hollywood Pictures. He scripted “Frost,” which has wrapped at Warner Bros. Foster produced “Gloria,” the remake of the John Cassavetes film. All three will be in theaters this fall.

Horseshoe Bay is also producing the remake of the Jerry Lewis classic “The Bellboy,” with Fred Wolf (“Dirty Work”) scripting and Mike Myers attached to star at MGM.

The partners continue to set up projects. They’ve set Nora Ephron to co-produce and do a rewrite of “Smooth Operator,” an original script by Tom Leopold and Avery Corman about an optometrist whose wife tosses him out of the house when his mistress calls to blow his cover. Trouble is, the mistress has phoned the wrong guy.

Horseshoe Bay has attached Chuck Russell (“The Mask” “Eraser”) to direct “The Score,” a heist film written by Dan Taylor and Ebbe Roe Smith which is set up at Mandalay.

Animals are in

The producers have also started development on “Cat and Dog,” a romantic comedy about a couple of animals who team up to try and keep their respective masters, a man and a woman, from falling in love. It’ll be in the vein of “Babe,” with the animals able to speak. They’re now looking for a writer.

Horseshoe also has “Titanic Thompson,” a biopic about the con-man and gambler to be written by Ron Shelton and John Norville, with whom Foster worked when he produced “Tin Cup.” They’re also developing “Love on Trial,” a script by Tom Serchio, and “One for the Ages,” a David Murray spec which Horseshoe Bay set up at MGM about a month ago.