Koppelsons will Lyne up for ‘Infidele’

Pic first to go into prod'n under Fox deal

Twentieth Century Fox has brought on Arnold and Anne Kopelson to produce an Adrian Lyne-directed film based on the 1969 French picture “La Femme Infidele.”

It hasn’t been an easy three years: As busy as the Kopelsons have been optioning projects, “Femme” could be the first film they are producing to actually go into production under their Fox deal, one of the most expensive in the biz.

Scribe Bill Broyles is close to finishing a new draft of the pic, based on the film written and directed by Claude Chabrol. Studio, which expects to settle on an English title, is aiming to start shooting in the fall.

From other hands

This one wasn’t developed by the duo, however. They’re stepping in to produce a pic which until now has been developed by execs at the Fox 2000 division, starting with former topper Laura Ziskin and continuing with current president Elizabeth Gabler. Ziskin’s husband, Oscar-winning writer Alvin Sargent (“Ordinary People”), penned an earlier draft.

Lyne’s involvement in the pic was reported late last year (Daily Variety, Dec. 8, 1999).

The Kopelsons — who won an Oscar for “Platoon” and had a remarkable series of hits for Warner Bros., including “Outbreak” and “The Fugitive” — had to start fresh when they joined Fox, as Warner Bros. kept the remaining slate, later releasing the Kopelson-produced “U.S. Marshals” and “A Perfect Murder.”

It takes time

After the string of hits for WB, the Kopelsons have left some observers wondering why their output suddenly dropped off after they joined Fox. The track record is an example of the price in terms of time and energy a producer pays when he or she switches studios.

In an interview, Arnold Kopelson told Daily Variety that he finds that perception frustrating and feels it’s based on ignorance of the realities of producing films.

“I had to start from scratch,” Kopelson said. “People say, ‘You’ve been around and nothing’s happening.’ At Warner Bros., I made six in a row that grossed $2 billion. We’ve had a plethora of Academy nominations and an Oscar. That didn’t just happen. It took me five years to develop ‘The Fugitive.’ ”

Kopelson said that when he joined Fox at the beginning of 1997 he thought he would be ready to start shooting a picture after two years. It took longer than he thought because he insists on being thoroughly satisfied with a script before rolling the cameras, he said. “Various writers I relied on — writers who had stellar backgrounds — didn’t deliver what I wanted,” Kopelson said.

Meanwhile, he’s been busy producing television, including a “Fugitive” pilot for WB TV and another pilot, “Sherman’s March,” for Fox.

But, Kopelson said, he’s now entering the “most exciting period of my relationship with Fox.”

The project he’s developed that’s closest to going before the cameras is “Riptide,” with “X-Files” director Rob Bowman on board to direct.

The adventure tale was stalled for a series of rewrites, with top writers Jon Cohen (“Minority Report”) and Paul Attanasio (“Quiz Show”) doing drafts. “X-Files” creator Chris Carter is due to deliver the latest version soon, and the studio hopes to move quickly once his script is in.

“The studio was more there than I was” on “Riptide,” Kopelson said, “and I put the brake on it.” Kopelson said he was hopeful “Riptide” would go into production shortly after “La Femme Infidele” is finished.

‘Circle’ upcoming

Another project on which Kopelson hopes to move quickly is “Winner’s Circle,” which Jon Avnet (“Red Corner,” “Fried Green Tomatoes”) has signed on to direct. Kopelson described the pic as a “The Way We Were”-style romance and said scripter Kario Salem is currently doing a rewrite.

“I am blessed to have three great projects,” Kopelson said. “I have three directors I admire and respect. I’m going to make these movies.”

“La Femme Infidele” (which was released under the English title “The Unfaithful Wife”) sounds like classic sexually tinged melodrama, in the tradition of helmer Lyne’s “Fatal Attraction” and “Indecent Proposal.”

It’s a dark drama about a woman in a solid but passionless marriage. When she has an affair, her outraged husband tracks down her lover and kills him — which provides the needed spark her marriage so sorely lacked. With newfound respect for hubby, she agrees to conceal the deed and stay with him.

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