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Spielberg to helm oater for D’Works

Project on fast track at studio

DreamWorks rounds out its production portfolio by jumping into the Western genre and inking with HorsePower Entertainment principals Sean Bailey and Cooper Layne to produce an oater set in the badlands of Utah.

The untitled project is being scribbled by Fred Ellis and Monte Williams, a pair of former speech writers for ex-Texas governor Ann Richards who were hand-picked by DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg for the project.

The pic, described as character driven in the vein of an “L.A. Confidential,” stems from an internally generated idea and has been fast-tracked by the studio. Details of the story are being closely guarded to preclude copycats, but the project has attracted considerable industry heat as the pic could be directed by Spielberg. DreamWorks execs Jason Hoffs and Marc Haimes are shepherding the project.

Spielberg met Ellis and Williams through his friendship with Richards, and previously tapped the pair to write for “High Incident,” an ensemble police drama and one of DreamWorks’ first TV series.

HorsePower’s Bailey and Layne are ascending producer-writers with projects at several studios including “The Core” with Mutual Film and Paramount and “Dreadnaught” at Columbia.

The duo also has a pair of pics at Fox 2000, “Mobile” and “Solace,” and their “Best Laid Plans” — the Mike Barker-helmed pic co-produced with Chris Moore and Dogstar Films at the studio — is in post-production and is set for a late-fall bow.