Cusack sweet on MGM, Trilogy’s ‘Success’ pic

Writer to be hired soon

MGM and Trilogy Entertainment Group are negotiating a pact to produce a contemporary version of the classic showbiz drama “Sweet Smell of Success,” with John Cusack in negotiations as its star and executive producer. The producers are discussing a short list of writers and plan to hire one shortly.

Cusack will portray Sidney Falco, who in the original was a sleazy press agent (Tony Curtis) who worshipped J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), the most powerful newspaper gossip columnist in New York City. Determined to prevent his sister from marrying a jazz musician, Hunsecker secretly hires Falco to break up the affair by any means possible. Pic was written by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets and directed by Alexander Mackendrick.

The modern-day “Sweet Smell” will be strongly rooted in Manhattan while the characters of Falco and Hunsecker will have different but analogous occupations.

“This is one of the most exciting projects I have ever worked on and working with Cusack is a thrill,” Trilogy principal Guy MacElwaine said.

Cusack’s career is white-hot thanks to his star turn in the current “High Fidelity,” a romantic comedy he also produced and co-wrote. He is repped by the William Morris Agency.

MGM acquired rights to “Sweet Smell” with the purchase of the UA library. SFX Theatricals is also backing a musical take on “The Sweet Smell of Success,” with composer Marvin Hamlisch, lyricist Craig Carnelia, book writer John Guare and director Nicholas Hytner.

Trilogy, which is headed by MacElwaine, Pen Densham and John Watson, is serving as executive producer on “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys,” directed by Peter Care.

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