‘Lisa’ smiles on Ward

Helming of 'Mona' adds to scribe's streak

Comedic writer/director David S. Ward’s career is undergoing a sudden resurgence: The scribe of “The Sting” and co-writer of “Sleepless in Seattle” has been tapped by Phoenix Pictures topper Mike Medavoy to direct the comedy “The Man Who Stole Mona Lisa.”

Only last month, Ward inked to write and direct the comedy “The Best Man” for Interscope Communications and 3 Arts Entertainment, with Nathan Lane attached to star.

In “Mona Lisa,” which is based on the book “The Day They Stole the Mona Lisa” by Seymour Reit and is set in 1911, a man successfully steals the famed painting from the Louvre in an ingeniously plotted theft.

Pic will be produced by Chartoff Prods.’ Robert Chartoff. It was written by Michael DiJiacomo.

Phoenix has a distribution deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment for most of its pics, although several, including “The Thin Red Line” and “Mad About Mambo” are being distributed by other studios.

Rick Hess, senior exec veepee and Christy Prunier, senior veepee of production, will be the Phoenix execs overseeing the project.

Pic previously had Brit helmer Jonathan Darby (“Hush”) attached to direct.

Ward’s credits include “Major League,” “The Milagro Beanfield War” and “Down Periscope.”