New Line, Phillips meet in ‘Afterworld’

Sundance helmer to take on grunge road pic

New Line Cinema has plucked novice Todd Philips — whose most notable directing credit is the Sundance documentary “Frat House” — to helm its road movie “A Leonard Cohen Afterworld.”

Pic is the brainchild of scribe Scott Rosenberg, who earlier this month inked a deal worth a potential $1.75 million to write and produce the movie for New Line.

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 previously stated that he and Rosenberg were looking at first-time filmmakers to helm the pic. De Luca is eyeing a start date of the first quarter of 1999. Casting is not yet set.

“Todd is part of a new generation of cutting-edge filmmakers,” De Luca said. “Anyone familiar with his work responds to the funny, brutal and honest style he brings to directing.”

The screenplay’s unusual title is taken from a Nirvana song, “Pennyroyal Tea,” in which Cobain sings: “Give me a Leonard Cohen Afterworld so I can sigh eternally.”

Rosenberg’s credits include “Con Air” and the forthcoming MGM teen thriller “Disturbing Behavior.”

“Frat House,” an expose of fraternity hazing, won Philips the documentary prize at this year’s Sundance fest. He has directed commercials for Miller Genuine Draft, Virgin Cola and ESPN, among others.

ICM’s Todd Feldman and Kristin Jones brokered Philips’ deal, along with attorney John Sloss. New Line’s senior vice president of business affairs, Suzanne Rosencrans, repped the studio.