New Line nabs Rosenberg pic

Mini-major pays $1.75 mil for 'Afterworld'

Scribe Scott Rosenberg, whose material ranges from guns ‘n’ ammo in “Con Air” to soul-searching in “Beautiful Girls,” has inked a deal worth $1.75 million to write and produce the road movie “A Leonard Cohen Afterworld” for New Line Cinema.

Script is set in 1994 on the weekend of Nirvana lead singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain’s funeral. Two 19-year-old friends use the grunge icon’s vigil in Seattle as an excuse to escape from their dreary lives in Las Vegas.

On their way they encounter an unusual cast of characters, including a drug dealer and a prostitute, and come to terms with life, death, and what it means to be an outsider.

New Line Prods. prexy Michael De Luca moved swiftly to make a pre-emptive bid on the screenplay, which, under the terms of the deal, he needs to get into production within the next 12 months.

De Luca is eyeing a start date for the pic — which does not yet have a cast or director — during the first quarter of 1999.

Sources said that Rosenberg’s complex deal roughly breaks down as about $1 million to write and produce the pic, augmented by another $750,000 based on box office performance.

De Luca said the film’s soundtrack would feature contemporary bands covering Nirvana songs. The exec has often been drawn to material in which music and nostalgia play prominent roles, as evidenced by NL pics “Boogie Nights” and “The Wedding Singer.”

“I’ve been trying to do something with Scott for a long time,” said De Luca. “I like the fact that he can switch between big, studio movies and more ironic, irreverent fare. ‘Leonard’ is a perfect opportunity for him at New Line.”

De Luca added that he and Rosenberg would quickly find a helmer for the pic. “Scott and I are going to sit down and discuss some possible names,” he said. “I’m looking for somebody fresh, possibly a first-timer.”

Rosenberg said that the screenplay’s unusual title is taken from a Nirvana song, “Pennyroyal T,” in which Cobain sings: “Give me a Leonard Cohen Afterworld so I can sigh eternally.”

“It’s a road movie about being an outsider, like Cobain was,” the screenwriter/producer said.

His other credits include the Andy Garcia starrer “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead” and the forthcoming MGM release “Disturbing Behavior.” He is repped by ICM’s Barbara Dreyfus.

New Line’s senior vice president of business affairs, Suzanne Rosencrans, negotiated on behalf of the studio.

(Phil Gallo contributed to this report.)