Since Warner Bros. grounded Nicolas Cage’s flight plan on “Superman Lives” over script and budget concerns, the actor has been swamped with offers. Sources said Cage wants to team up with director Martin Scorsese on “Bringing Out the Dead,” a Paul Schrader-scripted adaptation of the Joseph Connelly novel about a burned-out Gotham paramedic.
But the film, a co-production between Paramount and Touchstone, is subject to talks with Warner Bros. Though the studio isn’t involved, WB can either pronounce the paramedic pic healthy or DOA because of its contractual hold over both the director and actor.
After mixing an Oscar-winning turn in “Leaving Las Vegas” with the romantic “City of Angels” and the action hits “The Rock,” “Face/Off” and “Con Air,” Cage is that rare leading man who is considered a good fit for just about any role.
And studios have showered him with just about every good script in existence. Aside from the Scorsese overture, he was offered the lead role of a musician in Woody Allen’s next film — Sean Penn seems poised to take that role now that Cage has passed — and he’s been asked to co-star with Juliette Binoche in “Miss Julie,” an adaptation of the August Strindberg play being prepped by Mike Figgis, who directed Cage to the best actor Oscar in “Leaving Las Vegas.”
Cage was also offered “Three Kings,” the David O. Russell Gulf War heist project originally scripted by John Ridley under the title “Spoils of War.” Cage can also take his pick of several event-caliber pics that include the Jan De Bont-directed “Pathfinder” at Paramount and “I Am Legend,” the post-apocalyptic actioner at Warner Bros. which Arnold Schwarzenegger was once poised to topline until that film was scrapped over budget and script.
But Cage is apparently most enamored of the chance to work with Scorsese.
Conversations are taking place right now between CAA, which reps both Cage and Scorsese, and Warner Bros.
WB had a pay-or-play deal with Cage on “Superman Lives,” which, sources said, would have paid him a guaranteed $20 million on a base salary of $17 million.
WB also has a deal for Scorsese’s next movie. That was expected to be “Dino,” the much vaunted Dean Martin biopic being scripted by Nick Pileggi as a star vehicle for Tom Hanks. Some feel that the pic won’t be ready for some time, particularly if Scorsese sticks to the cast list which scribe Pileggi revealed last year to my colleague Army Archerd.
That wish list included Jim Carrey, John Travolta, Wesley Snipes and Adam Sandler, not the easiest bunch to get in scheduling synchronicity. WB might not lose that much time allowing Scorsese to direct his paramedic pic, and would engender no shortage of good will with both Scorsese and Cage.
“Bringing Out the Dead,” which is being produced by Scott Rudin, would mark Scorsese’s first pairing with Cage, and the director’s fourth collaboration with Schrader, who scripted some of Scorsese’s most celebrated films, including “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” (with Mardik Martin) and the adaptation of “The Last Temptation of Christ” in 1988.
Cage would play a veteran paramedic in Hell’s Kitchen who is haunted by the visions and gore of the people he saves, and especially by those he cannot save. Connelly got much critical acclaim for the Knopf novel, which he wrote between graveyard shifts as a paramedic.
Cage just wrapped a starring role alongside Joaquin Phoenix for director Joel Schumacher in Columbia’s “8 Millimeter.” Written by “Seven” scribe Andrew Kevin Walker, the film stars Cage as a private eye trying to track down the origin of a snuff film.
Cage is managed by Brillstein-Grey.
None of the principals would comment.
VIGGO GOES “PSYCHO”: Imagine and Universal are negotiating with Viggo Mortensen for the final central character in its remake of “Psycho,” which Gus Van Sant will direct from the script Joseph Stefano wrote for Alfred Hitchcock. Brian Grazer produces.
Mortensen is in talks to play the character of Sam Loomis, who helps get to the bottom of the disappearance of the Janet Leigh character, played by Anne Heche. Mortensen would join Vince Vaughn, Heche, Julianne Moore and William Macy in the remake. Shooting starts at the end of the month.
MULRONEY FOLLOWS “MONEY”: Dermot Mulroney, in Cannes to promote “Goodbye Lover,” the Warner Bros. film he stars in with Patricia Arquette, has reason to return to the States. He’s signed to start shooting this summer on Polygram’s “Where the Money Is,” alongside Paul Newman and Linda Fiorentino for Scott Free Prods.
The film’s directed by Marek Kanievska and scripted by E. Max Frye. Mulroney, last seen in “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” plays Fiorentino’s lover, who teams in a caper with a conman/nursing home resident played by Sean Connery. He’s managed by Carol Bodie and agented by UTA.
HIT MAN: Although Sony Pictures Entertainment commandeered Madison Square Garden and cordoned off a whole city block for the premiere of “Godzilla,” don’t get the idea that the studio’s profligate. Its last hit was “The Big Hit,” a film that cost $12.5 million to make and has grossed double that. SPE nixed putting on a premiere, so the film’s writer, Ben Ramsey, sprang for the party himself.
That party was held on the lot and drew more than 200 people. It was during those festivities that the studio announced that “The Big Hit” was that weekend’s top-grossing film. So Ramsey got bullish and submitted his $10,000 tab as an expense to the studio. It has been denied, meaning that, ultimately, Ramsey is taking the big hit.
RETEAM: Stuart Blumberg has written “Keeping the Faith,” the film in which Edward Norton will star and likely make his directing debut, along with producing with Howard (Hawk) Koch Jr. at Columbia.
Blumberg, who’s also an actor and a Norton pal, has just been cast in a small role alongside him in Fox 2000’s “The Fight Club,” which stars Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Blumberg’s repped by Michael Stipanich and Sarah Clossey at Writers & Artists.