×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Scribe revisiting reality

Jonze may direct Col pic

Screenwriter Charles Kaufman has managed to turn writer’s block into a script for Columbia Pictures.

Helmer Jonathan Demme’s Universal-based Clinica Estetica Prods. had optioned Susan Orlean’s nonfiction tome “The Orchid Thief,” first published by Random House in January — and had shopped around the idea for a movie based on it.

Now, the project has been set up at Columbia Pictures, and Spike Jonze, helmer of Kaufman’s “Being John Malkovich” and multiple Beastie Boys musicvideos, is in talks to helm the pic.

Orlean, a journo at the New Yorker, penned “Thief” after writing a piece on the trial of John Laroche, a manager at a plant nursery for the Seminole tribe of Hollywood, Fla. The obsessive, eccentric Laroche was arrested along with three tribesmen in 1994 for stealing endangered species of orchids.

That, however, is hardly the story that the “Being John Malkovich” scribe returned with. Having struggled with the adaptation of Orlean’s book, he gave into writer’s block and made that the story instead.

Kaufman even went so far as to invent “a brother,” Donald, putting his name on the cover of the script and dedicating the manuscript to him.

But even as several prominent Hollywood talent agents have sought out Donald Kaufman (one even sagely proclaiming that Donald had since died), an insider explained that Donald never died because he had, in fact, never been born: Donald is a figment of Charles Kaufman’s imagination.

And so the “Orchid” script that Columbia is now developing centers on a screenwriter hired to adapt a nonfiction book who is rapidly becoming unhinged as it becomes clear that he is unable to perform the task, enlisting his “brother” to help him.

The new “Orchid” script does employ several scenes and storylines drawn from Orlean’s work, centering on her efforts to chronicle Laroche’s swampy foibles.

Col execs Amy Baer and Rachel O’Connor are understood to be supervising the project.

Kaufman is repped by United Talent Agency, Jonze by Creative Artists Agency.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

  • Emma Stone Variety Actors on Actors

    First Look at Emma Stone in Disney's Live-Action 'Cruella' Drops

    Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil is significantly more punk rock than her animated counterpart. Stone appeared via video message to debut the first look of the titular character in Disney’s “Cruella” at D23 on Saturday, also revealing that it will take place in the punk rock era of the 1970s. In the first photo, Stone [...]

  • ‘Mulan’ Star Skips D23 Press Amid

    'Mulan' Star Crystal Yifei Liu Skips D23 Amid International Controversy

    Crystal Yifei Liu, the star of Disney’s live action remake of “Mulan,” skipped the press line and Disney panel at Disney’s D23 expo Saturday in the heat of the #BoycottMulan controversy. Unlike the other portions of the Saturday Disney panel, which featured both stars and directors for the other films presented, the “Mulan” panel was [...]

  • Marvel Stars Want Tom Holland's Spider-Man

    Marvel Stars Want to Keep Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the MCU

    Marvel fans aren’t the only ones heartbroken that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man might not be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. “It really is sad. First off, he’s the greatest Spider-Man to me. He actually has that youthful energy,” Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Scarlet Witch in the MCU, told Variety at D23 on Friday. “He’s been [...]

  • Kit Harington

    'Game of Thrones' Star Kit Harington Joins 'The Eternals'

    Jon Snow is leaving the North. “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington is joining the cast of “The Eternals” as Dane Whitman, also known as the Black Knight, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced Saturday on the main stage at D23. Feige also confirmed Gemma Chan’s appearance in the film as Sersi, another member of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content