HUDLIN WITH MANDALAY: Mandalay Pictures has made a deal for Reginald Hudlin to direct “You Betta Watch Out,” a comedy based on his own pitch that is being fast-tracked for Christmas 1999.
In Hudlin’s holiday tale, a group of inner-city kids take Santa hostage. While this sounds ominous, the film is envisioned as replicating the mischievous spirit of “Home Alone,” with the kids ending up discovering the true meaning of the holiday.
Kyle Baker is writing the script and Ruben Cannon is producing. Todd Baker is the Mandalay exec on the film, which will be distributed domestically by Paramount. Hudlin’s directing credits include “The Great White Hype,” “Boomerang” and “House Party.” He was repped by attorney Stephen Barnes and agents Larry Kennar and Norman Aladjem of Writers & Artists.
HOOPS OOPS: Universal is looking to assess a personal foul on the hoops pic “New Jersey Turnpikes,” and it apparently was on director Bryan Buckley. The foul was not committed in the act of shooting, but rather in post-production, and the offense was an unauthorized screening at the Tribeca Film Center that led to the unfinished film being reviewed on TV.
The comedy about the waning days of the American Basketball Assn. is being edited, with the expectation that it’ll be shorter than the first cut and that a few reshoots might be done. While that’s hardly out of the ordinary for studio films, the studio expected it to be kept under wraps.
It was with some chagrin that U execs found out that Keith Olbermann of MSNBC reported seeing the film and essentially gave it a review. While his comments were positive, it came as a surprise to the studio brass and producer Hal Lieberman at Mostow/Lieberman, who were unaware that anyone outside the studio was being shown the film.
A source close to the situation confirmed the incident, chalking it up to naivete of the director, who thought he was showing it to friends and didn’t expect it to reach the media. A studio spokesman said such things sometimes happen and that it didn’t seem a big deal. Given the current turmoil at Universal, it’s comparatively small, but having a film reviewed before it even has a release date was considered a problem of some merit.
DELPY FINDS EXTRA WORK: Actress Julie Delpy has become the next actress to reach hyphenate status, as she has gotten the financing together to direct “Tell Me,” a film written by Delpy and Kelly Souders. It is described as a dark comedy about a neurotic housewife taken hostage by a stranger whose gun proves no match for her manipulative mind.
The film will be produced by Delpy, Andrea Sperling and France-based Why Not Prods., which financed “In the Soup” and other indie films. As the daughter of stage actors, Delpy has always wanted to direct. She took an NYU summer program and film classes in France, and got the confidence to direct a feature after doing the short “Blah, Blah, Blah,” which she wrote and which unspooled at Sundance.
“I’m going to play a small part for fun,” said Delpy, who starred in the NBC mini “Crime and Punishment” and the film “An American Werewolf in Paris.” It’s her second script and got better reaction from French financiers than did the first, a dark story called “Le Devoir Des Idiots.” “I sent this one to a French company I knew, and they told me they were not expecting it to be very good, but that it was. Actors in France are not respected the way they are in America, where they all seem to produce and direct. They didn’t expect much from a young woman.” Delpy and casting director Rick Montgomery are assembling cast for a February shoot.
SCHWIMMER IN “RAGE”: As he and his “Friends” cohorts move back to the bargaining table with Warner Bros. to get raises and keep the hit sitcom on the air for several more seasons, David Schwimmer continues moonlighting with film roles. He has joined the ensemble cast in the Jim Stern-directed “All the Rage,” which stars Joan Allen, Gary Sinise, Jeff Daniels, Andre Braugher and Anna Paquin. The script’s by Keith Reddin about a group brought together by an incident involving guns. Ash Shah, who’s producing with Peter Gilbert, said they’re hoping to add several other marquee names to the cast and might keep the pic independent and unattached to a distributor until it finishes shooting.
The hope is to make a splash at Cannes next year. Schwimmer has worked it out with his “Friends” producers, and starts work Nov. 25 on the pic, which began shooting Monday. He’s repped by Gersh’s Leslie Siebert and managed by Brian Medavoy.
SINISE AND HANKS AGAIN: After playing Lieutenant Dan opposite Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump,” Gary Sinise has enlisted to do a minor cameo opposite Hanks in “The Green Mile.” Sinise did it as a favor to Hanks — the two also starred together in “Apollo 13” — just before heading to D.C. with Steppenwolf Theatre cohorts John Malkovich, Joan Allen and others to receive the National Medal of Arts Award from President Clinton. They were the first theater group so honored. Sinise also moves to starring roles in Showtime’s “That Championship Season” and the indie “All the Rage.”
THIRD GENERATION BRIDGES: The Bridges family continues to crank out the thespians. The latest addition is Jordan Bridges, who’ll join his dad Beau in the A&E miniseries “P.T. Barnum.” Working from script by Lionel Chetwynd, Beau plays the legendary showman as an adult, and Jordan plays him as a youth. Father and son recently did an installment of Showtime’s “The Defenders” together, but this will be the first time they have played the same character.