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London Films heading ‘West’

Mason, Donners team on Brit comedy remake

LONDON — Morgan Mason’s London Films has teamed up with Donner/Shuler Donner to develop a remake of the classic British comedy “The Ghost Goes West” for Warner Bros.

The project is out to writers, with Peter Chelsom expressing interest in directing after he has completed “Town and Country” with Warren Beatty.

“The Ghost Goes West” comes from the golden era of London Films in the 1930s under legendary Brit producer Alexander Korda.

Directed by Rene Clair, it starred Robert Donat in a double role as the penurious heir to a Scottish castle and as the ghost who haunts the stately pile. An American millionaire buys the castle and transports it, stone by stone, to Florida, only to discover that the ghost comes, too.

Mason, a former William Morris agent and indie producer, joined London Films early last year to help revive the venerable company’s fortunes and is putting particular effort into mining its library for remakes.

Along with “The Ghost Goes West,” he is developing a movie version of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” with American Zoetrope, and is considering a remake of “Kim,” based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel.

Meantime the company is already in production on three “Scarlet Pimpernel” telepics for the BBC, starring Richard E. Grant as the British aristo who saves Gallic bluebloods from the guillotine.

London Films is also working with American Zoetrope on an original screenplay from self-help writer Deepak Chopra titled “The Lords of Light,” about the return of Satan.

Under a deal brokered by Robert Gottlieb at William Morris in New York, the screenplay is also being used as the basis for a series of books.

As well as these bigger budget projects that London is developing with American partners for major studios to finance, Mason also has a number of smaller pics that London will bankroll through its own foreign sales operation.

These include “Playing Sinatra,” based on the play by Bernard Kops, which will be co-produced by Tina Sinatra Prods. Kops himself has penned the screenplay, about a brother and sister obsessed by Frank Sinatra, and the impact on their insular life when a man comes between them.

Mason said he is talking to Sinatra’s ex-wife Mia Farrow about playing the female lead, with Lindsay Posner lined up to direct. Simultaneously, he’s plotting a London stage version of the play for which he is also hoping to snare Farrow. Both the stage production and the movie are planned for the end of this year.

Finally, London Films has optioned Vladimir Nabakov’s novel “Ada,” about a semi-incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister, for which Michael Alexander has written the screenplay.

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