NEW YORK — Sandra Bullock’s Fortis Films has reupped its production deal at Warner Bros. and is ramping up a quartet of projects, two animated and two live-action — an adaptation of the Gorman Berchard novel “Alison’s Starting to Happen” and the comic pitch “Babe Behind Bars” — for Bullock to star in.
Helen Childress (“Reality Bites”) is adapting “Alison’s Starting to Happen” for Bullock to star as a self-absorbed pathless woman who dies in a car crash and is then given time to find meaning in her life if she’s going to get to heaven. Courtenay Valenti is supervising the pic for WB.
Warner Bros. has just paid a mid-six figure sum for “Babe Behind Bars,” a comic pitch to be written by Susan Halli Shaffer, who wrote “Dog Eat Dog” for Touchstone and “Change of Heart” for Fox. In a deal just closed by her William Morris agent, Bullock’s Fortis will produce with Brad Grey and Matthew Baer of Brillstein-Grey. That comedy is about a beautiful and ruthless female Hollywood exec sentenced to prison after a reckless car accident leaves her elderly victim in a coma. They’ll develop it as a possible starring vehicle for Bullock, with WB’s Kevin McCormick supervising.
Bullock, who recently wrapped the Betty Thomas-directed “28 Days” for Columbia, has increased producing activities at Fortis, which she runs with sister Gesine Bullock. Fortis has just completed its first feature in “Gunshy,” the comedy starring Liam Neeson and Oliver Platt, with Bullock playing a small role. The film was just acquired for distribution by Disney, and the studio has set a Feb. 4 release date.
Fortis has also set two animated projects to aid WB’s foray into the animation game. “Nicholas Cricket” is an animated adaptation of the William Joyce children’s book. It’s being scripted by Karey Kirkpatrick, whose credits include the upcoming DreamWorks animated pic “Chicken Run,” which features the voice of Mel Gibson. The title character is a cynical bandleader who conquers a broken heart and helps his ex-girl friend and her army of resistance fighters battle evil wasps.
Fortis is aligned with Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot to produce “Jingle,” an animated film being scripted by Glenn Eichler, best known from the MTV animated show “Daria” and “Beavis and Butt-head.” “Jingle” starts on Christmas Eve, when the world’s most sarcastic elf is left behind at the home of the world’s naughtiest little girl. The elf has a few months to get the girl to be good enough for Santa Claus to return and take the elf home.
It’s likely that Fortis’ first greenlit project at WB will be “Miss Congeniality,” a film to be financed by Castle Rock and Warner Bros. and which is shaping up to quite possibly be Bullock’s next starring vehicle. Negotiations are under way for Bullock to produce and star as an FBI agent who goes undercover as a Miss America contestant, with a script in by Marc Lawrence. Bullock is also keen on the romantic comedy “The List,” which was recently set up at WB for Fortis to produce with Sarah Pillsbury, Midge Sanford and Hunt Lowry. The script is by “Runaway Bride” scribes Sara Parriot and Josann McGibbon.