RIDLEY GOES TUBE ROUTE: John Ridley, who hatched the script “Three Kings” and is about to release his third novel, has signed with the Greenblatt Janollari Studio to create two TV pilots, in a deal worth high six-figures.
While it’s rare to see show creators who move from comedy to drama, Ridley can be believed when he says he plans to do one drama and one comedy. He began his career as a standup who branched out to writing on sitcoms like “Martin” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
He turned to writing ultra-serious scripts and novels, including “Stray Dogs,” the novel which became the Oliver Stone-directed “U-Turn.” He then set up “Three Kings,” a pic that is opening this fall from Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures. Ridley will have story credit after director David O. Russell did a major bit of rewriting. “I could have arbitrated it, but was happy to take the story credit, and I hope it’s a huge movie,” said Ridley.
He’s currently supervising producer on the NBC drama launch “Third Watch” which was co-created by John Wells and Ed Bernero, and his third novel, “Everybody Smokes In Hell,” is published this month by Knopf. The novel’s another neo-noir drama, this time about a convenience-store worker’s rise to the inner circle of Hollywood players. The book’s being handled by Stephanie Davis at AMG and Endeavor, and several producers are circling.
‘DAYS’ GREASES AXL RETURN: When Universal and Beacon unveil a trailer for their Schwarzenegger pic “End of Days” tonight on the MTV Music Awards, the accompanying music gives away one of the film’s surprises. The song “Oh My God” is the big single from the pic and was recorded by Guns N’ Roses, with Axl Rose on vocals. It’s the first time the band has worked together in eight years. Schwarzenegger could have something to do with the band’s participation: They were a presence on “Terminator 2.”
‘MALKOVICH’ BONUS FOR SCRIBE: “Being John Malkovich” is one of the best reviewed films at the Venice Film Fest, but scribe Charlie Kaufman must still be shaking his head at the fortuitous and unlikely way the film worked out. Kaufman set up his unusual project at New Line for low bucks, but by the time it took root at Propaganda, the scribe got a special bonus clause if John Malkovich really stepped up to play himself.
That seemed a long shot, but the makers didn’t even have time to contemplate a title change to “Being Steve Buscemi” before Malkovich rose to the challenge. Kaufman’s paycheck grew about 35% as a result, and he’s now commanding $1 million a script.
He’s got the Chuck Barris memoir “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” at Warner Bros. with Mike Myers interested, the Columbia project “Adaptation” with Jonathan Demme attached, and what’s being called “the untitled recovered memory project” at USA Studios with Nicolas Cage attached.
Next up for Kaufman is a pair of projects he’s producing with “Malkovich” director Spike Jonze and Good Machine. One’s called “Human Nature” and the second is untitled. Both are to be directed by Michel Gondry, who, like Jonze, comes from the video circuit. Studios are mobilizing. Kaufman’s repped by UTA.