NEW YORK — After today, there will be two Harveys hopping around Miramax’s Tribeca offices: the company’s famous co-prexy, and a certain 6-foot-3-1/2-inch invisible rabbit.
Miramax beat out several high-profile bidders, including Universal, New Line and Disney (repped by the producing team Barry Sonnenfeld and Barry Josephson) to scoop up screen rights to the remake of the 1950 James Stewart classic “Harvey.”
Fittingly, negotiations for the bunny pic were completed Easter Sunday.
Los Angles-based producer Don Gregory, who sold the rights to Miramax, will produce the film. He had purchased the screen and merchandising rights to “Harvey” from the Mary Chase estate in 1996.
While Miramax does not expect to have a start date until it has finished adaptation of the play, Bob Weinstein assured that “Harvey” is on the fast track.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, New Line was interested in turning “Harvey” into an Adam Sandler vehicle, and Universal was eyeing it as a possible Jim Carrey starrer with Tom Shadyac directing.
As for whom Miramax is considering for the role, Weinstein confirmed that Sandler and Carrey as well as Tom Hanks are tops among the A-list actor-comedians the Disney subsid envisions for the role.
” ‘Harvey’ is a classic film, but one that will be easy to adapt for a modern-day setting,” Weinstein told Daily Variety. “It is a story that has great heart and will appeal to a mainstream audience, whether they are male or female, young or old.”
“Harvey” is the story of Elwood P. Dowd, a man whose kindness and generosity is inexorably linked to his relationship with Harvey, a Wookie-sized rabbit whom only Dowd can see.
In addition to making his second bigscreen appearance, “Harvey” next year will be looking to turn the Great White Way into a bunny trail.
Broadway vet Gregory retained the stage rights to the story and is planning to mount a revival on Broadway sometime during 2000.
Marsha Mason is slated to direct the revival of the play, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Chase. Gregory has an offer out to a major actor to star.
In the past, many comedians and actors have expressed interest in the part of Dowd, a character with whom Stewart is linked eternally.
Stewart nabbed an Oscar nomination for his performance in the Henry Kostner-directed Universal release. Josephine Hull won the supporting actress Oscar as the bewildered aunt who desperately wants her nephew committed.
In addition to Weinstein, Dimension Films prexy Cary Granat and Miramax VP of business and legal affairs Brian Burkin handled the negotiations for the film rights on behalf of Miramax.
Gregory is repped out of Los Angeles by Dick Shephard of the Artists Agency.
Gotham-based lawyer Andrew Boose reps the Chase estate.