Meyjes deal cues ‘Lindbergh’ rev-up

Spielberg pic based on Berg book

Bringing the high-profile project out of the hangar and back onto the tarmac, DreamWorks and principal Steven Spielberg have tapped Menno Meyjes to adapt “Lindbergh,” A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bio of Charles A. Lindbergh.

Meyjes, who scripted “The Color Purple” for Spielberg, will write the screenplay as a directing outing for the Oscar-winning helmer.

While it is still expected that Spielberg will next helm Tom Cruise in “Minority Report” for Fox/DreamWorks, a greenlight is pending Scott Frank’s draft of the screenplay, which is due imminently.

That pic had been expected to start production in January, but was delayed due to ironing out the script and waiting for star Tom Cruise to be free from the marathon shoot of “Mission: Impossible II.” If all parties accept the script, “Minority” could go before the cameras in late February or early March.

Whether it actually begins shooting early in 2000, Spielberg spokesman Marvin Levy said, “depends on everything being in place, on everyone’s schedule being in place. But they’re well down the line on all of that.”

It’s understood that Spielberg would then turn to the film version of “Memoirs of a Geisha” for Columbia before embarking on “Lindbergh.”

But again, there is no set date for “Geisha,” which is well into development and was always viewed as a holiday release. However, the chances of it being a Christmas 2000 release appear extremely thin.

Levy added that no consideration would be given to a start date for the Lindbergh biopic “until there’s a script that everyone says, ‘OK, that’s it.’ ”

Nevertheless, he said, the Lindbergh project “certainly is something that’s very much in active development, as evidenced by the fact that they brought in another writer.”

“Steven has done films back-to-back before. It’s not inconceivable that he could do it right after ‘Minority.’ ”

Paul Attanasio signed on to adapt the bio soon after DreamWorks purchased the rights to Berg’s nearly completed book sight-unseen. Attanasio later dropped out without penning a draft.

While “Lindbergh” had been put on the back burner after Attanasio’s departure and as Spielberg turned his attention to other projects, the biopic became an open writing assignment in the summer, with Meyjes and Spielberg choosing to reunite earlier this month.

It had been rumored that Spielberg had cooled on the project after reading about the famed flier’s anti-Semitism, but last year, the director told Daily Variety’s Army Archerd that he would take on Lindbergh, warts and all.

“Once you commit to do a biography on an icon of a century, you have to be unflinching, you have to flesh out the entire story — and from (Lindbergh’s wife) Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s point of view — and not from Lindbergh the man,” Spielberg said at the time (Daily Variety, Nov. 11, 1998). He added: “It will be objective without bias of any kind. I’m not trying to put him on a pedestal or to tear him down. It’s an honest story about his life.”

Though Spielberg directed Meyjes’ adaptation of “Color Purple” in 1985 (Meyjes also was credited on the Spielberg-helmed “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” in 1989), the helmer was drawn back to Meyjes after reading his screenplay “Hoffman,” a study of the relationship between a young Adolph Hitler and the Jewish art teacher who failed to encourage the future Nazi leader’s artistic abilities — a premise that has been adopted as one reason Hitler turned to politics and genocide instead of focusing on art.

Meyjes is looking to set up “Hoffman,” to which he is attached to direct. His other credits include Fox’s 1998 release “The Siege.”

Meyjes’ deal was brokered by ICM’s Ken Kamins and Jeff Gorin.