USA whips up ‘Marquis’ for Van Sant to direct

Focus on sexual maverick's relationships

The Marquis de Sade is the homme du jour.

With Fox Searchlight Pictures about to put its Sade biopic, “Quills,” into production, USA Films has bought Francine Du Plessix Gray’s biography “At Home With the Marquis de Sade” for Gus Van Sant to direct.

It’s the first project that the company has bought since installing its new management team of chairman Scott Greenstein and president Russell Schwartz.

While USA hasn’t yet attached a screenwriter to “At Home,” the book (published late last year by Simon & Schuster) is an account of the legendary sexual maverick, focusing on his relationship with his wife, Pelagie, and mother-in-law, Madame de Montreuil.

Van Sant isn’t yet formally attached to the project, but he has expressed interest in helming it, sources said.

“Quills,” to be directed by Philip Kaufman, is based on the play by Doug Wright. It’s about the Marquis’ final days in a Paris mental institute. Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet are attached to star.

In “At Home,” Plessix Gray draws on thousands of letters exchanged between Sade, whose name became synonymous with sexual perversion, and his wife, few of which have been published in English.

Van Sant is also attached to direct “Standing Room Only,” starring John Travolta, which Disney will distribute in the U.S. There is no start date yet for that pic. His credits include “Psycho,” “Good Will Hunting” and “To Die For.”

‘Night’ for Tyler, Douglas

USA announced Saturday that Liv Tyler and Michael Douglas would star in “One Night at McCool’s,” one of several pics that the company inherited from October Films.

USA declined comment. Van Sant’s reps at William Morris could not be reached.

The Gersh Agency’s Ron Bernstein brokered the deal on behalf of Gray’s Gotham lit agents at George Borchardt.