Russell to do ‘Mambo’ for Phoenix

Romantic comedy still seeks co-star

Young Irish thesp Keri Russell has inked for the lead role in Phoenix Pictures’ low-budget comedy “Mad About Mambo.”

The romantic comedy is about a Catholic schoolboy in West Belfast who longs for a better life. In order to emulate his soccer heroes, Pele and Carlos Riga, he decides to learn the Samba, which leads to his meeting Russell’s character.

Phoenix has yet to cast the male lead.

The $6 million to $8 million pic is being financed and distributed by Polygram Filmed Entertainment, marking Phoenix’s first collaboration with PFE. Shooting begins in Ireland May 25.

Russell’s indie past

Russell has appeared in indie pics “Dead Man’s Curve” and “Eight Days a Week.” Her TV credits include telepics “The Lottery,” “The Babysitter’s Seduction” and “When Innocence is Lost.”

Irish helmer John Forte is writing and directing “Mambo,” which will be produced by First City Prods.’ David Kelly.

Executive producers are Martin Bruce-Clayton and Gabriel Byrne, whose Plurabelle Films has a first-look deal with Phoenix.

PFE’s specialized division, Gramercy Pictures, will handle the pic in the U.S.

Russell is repped by her manager Joannie Burstein and the Gersh Agency’s Ken Kaplan.