Jennifer Lopez has just been offered $5 million, and is expected to accept, for the lead in “Angel Eyes” for Warner Bros.
The studio is also pursuing her as a potential match for Will Smith in the remake of “A Star is Born,” a move that would capitalize on the former Fly Girl’s singing career. Her Sony album, “On the 6,” debuted at No. 8 two weeks ago.
Warners isn’t the only studio chasing Lopez. Already booked for the New Line sci-fi pic “The Cell,” she’s in talks to take the title role in New Line’s “The Wedding Planner” for director Adam Schenkman, and has also been in discussions to join Eddie Murphy in the Castle Rock film “Pluto Nash,” the action comedy set on the moon that Ron Underwood will direct early next year.
“Angel Eyes” is a Gerald DiPego-scripted drama in which Lopez would play a cop reeling from the effects of an abusive childhood. She forms a healing bond with a man who has been traumatized since watching his son and wife die in a car crash.
Lopez is repped by ICM’s Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and managed by Benny Medina.
FROM CRUEL TO FOND INTENTIONS: When you’re turning 40 and are still being called King of the Teen Set, it’s tough to find you the perfect birthday present. “Cruel Intentions” director Roger Kumble faced that dilemma with that pic’s producer, Neal Moritz.
Solution: Kumble created nealhmoritz.com, “The Official Website of Neal H. Moritz, King of the Teen Movies.” The webpage begins with the Kumble mission statement: “Welcome Moritz fans to the first Neal H. Moritz web site. Not only am I Neal’s humble slave writer/director, but I am also his number one fan. I love Neal. I live for Neal and I will only work for Neal because he’s the best.” The site continues with a gallery of photos, vital Moritz personal stats, a message board and movie info. While this sounds like a director with too much time on his hand and in desperate need of another job, quickly, Kumble assures Dish it’s exactly the opposite. So busy working with Moritz to tranfer “Cruel Intentions” into the Fox series “Manchester Prep,” he had little time to get the right B-day present. “I had no time to do one of those minimovies that are so popular, so I took the easier approach and thought up the website,” he said. “His parents were helpful with the pictures, and though his initial reaction was (an expletive), I think Neal got a kick out of it.”
Kumble promises to keep the site current: “I do have the key to put in more facts about Neal, so he’d better be nice to me.”
FOND INTENTIONS: When you’re a writer/director breaking into Hollywood, it doesn’t hurt to have an interesting backstory. William Blake Herron, whose CAA agents are now screening his debut film, “Texas Funeral,” for domestic distributors, has a shocker that’s hard to top. The town’s buzzing about Herron’s pic after screenings at CAA and the home of Phoenix topper Mike Medavoy. Pic stars Martin Sheen, Robert Patrick, Joanne Whaley, Chris Noth and others. Herron was delighted to see Sheen brought his “Badlands” director Terrence Malick to the film. Malick is a fellow Texan after whose “Days of Heaven” Herron patterned his film.
During the screenings, Herron told his own story. “Only in L.A. do your pathetic and embarrassing personal stories become a marketing tool,” said Herron, who divulged that while completing his film school work at NYU, he lived in Brooklyn and was so broke, “I literally pulled pizza crusts from garbage cans. I got this job for electric shock testing, where they connect wires to your hand to discern your ability to withstand pain, from mild all the way to as excruciating as possible without doing nerve damage. I was second in pain tolerance after an electrician, which maybe is a good thing for a filmmaker, and I was paid $30 an hour.”
Freshly shocked, Herron had to walk home each day, crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge on foot. “It’s dark, I’m feeling like a total loser, and I looked back at the stunning skyline and bridge, built by men of talent,” Herron said. “I thought of the sacrifices made by my middle class family, who bled to get me to this disappointing place I was at. I thought of my ancestors who helped build Texas, and I decided to write a valentine to my family.”
That became “Texas Funeral,” but it wasn’t your usual film script. “I had no money for writing materials, but I had about 60 paper shopping bags, and so I wrote the first draft on the bags,” said Herron.
He and producer Damian Jones lined up financing and a cast to work nearly free. Even before the pic gets a domestic distribber, Herron’s long past those hand to mouth days. He’s now adapting the Robert Ludlum thriller “The Bourne Identity” for Universal and “Go” director Doug Liman, and Phoenix’s Medavoy will finance his next writing/directing effort, “The Remarkable Fall and Rise of Emperor Norton,” which Herron scripted about a pre-Civil War character.
“It’s a Don Quixote-like story about Joshua Norton, who tried to corner the rice market in San Francisco, promptly went insane and (became) homeless. As you can see, I’m still drawing on my past.” Norton also became a fabled figure and pal of the likes of Samuel Clemens, and was often referred to with the honorary title of “emperor.”