About-face for ‘Schmidt’

Project soon to land at New Line

HOLLYWOOD — It’s an about-face for “About Schmidt.” In turnaround from Sony’s Columbia Pictures, the project will soon land at New Line Cinema.

Based loosely on the 1996 novel of the same name by Louis Begley, “Schmidt” reunites the writing team from last year’s Paramount sleeper, “Election”: co-writer and helmer Alexander Payne, and scribe Jim Taylor.

Script centers on Albert Schmidt, a retired insurance man, 60-ish and recently widowed, who is quickly losing his battle with self-deception.

“In short, it’s about a man who sees all of his institutions stripped away from him — marriage, career, daughter — and he has to figure it out when he realizes there isn’t much time left,” explained Payne, who spoke to Daily Variety between packing up boxes for a trip to Omaha to scout locations.

New Line is understood to be in conversations with Jack Nicholson for the title role (written with him in mind, according to Payne), though no negotiations have commenced.

Payne was repped by Endeavor and by attorney John Diemer at Bloom, Hergott, Diemer and Cook; Taylor is repped by the William Morris Agency.

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