Fox’s ‘Phone’ rings Carrey

Schumacher signs thesp for low budget indie-style film

NEW YORK — Jim Carrey has answered the call of director Joel Schumacher and Fox 2000 and is negotiating to star in “Phone Booth,” the drama about a man who picks up a ringing phone and is told he’ll be shot if he hangs up.

Carrey has been atop Schumacher’s wish list since the director was drafted by Fox 2000 prexy Elizabeth Gabler to make the film (Daily Variety, April 14). Carrey mulled it during a vacation and just notified both the studio and director that he was game for a project that is as much a departure for him as were “The Truman Show” and “Man on the Moon.”

“Phone Booth” is tailor-made for a superstar, since the protagonist is onscreen every moment of the film, which takes place totally at a phone booth on a busy Manhattan street. Unlike most superstar studio vehicles, “Phone Booth” has been constructed to be shot like a guerrilla-style indie film with a low budget and abbreviated production schedule.

Slated for students

The pic is slated to roll this summer on a yet-to-be-determined Gotham street, and the entire shoot is expected to be completed within a couple of weeks. To accomplish this, Schumacher will do an extensive amount of rehearsing, and it’s envisioned that Fox 2000 will employ Internet technology by streaming footage of the rehearsal and shooting process, to show film students and those interested in the process how a movie gets made.

Perhaps because of its taut script and unusual logistics, “Phone Booth” has been a hot project among directors and actors since Gabler and Fox topper Tom Rothman brought in the spec script two years ago, with Jerry and David Zucker and Gil Netter producing.

Schumacher was the first choice but was busy, and Michael Bay and Allen and Albert Hughes flirted with the project, with stars like Will Smith also intrigued. A deal would reunite the actor and director after Carrey played the Riddler in the Schumacher-directed “Batman Forever.”

“Phone Booth” fits into Schumacher’s recent mode of doing smaller, edgy fare.

Carrey has smartly been mixing up mainstream comedies with offbeat pics done with A-list directors. After playing Andy Kaufman in the Milos Forman-directed “Man on the Moon,” Carrey starred for Peter and Bobby Farrelly in the Fox comedy “Me, Myself & Irene,” and recently wrapped the title role in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” for director Ron Howard.

Carrey is repped by UTA and the Gold/Miller Co.

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