NEW YORK — DreamWorks has made a three-year first-look deal with Ben Stiller and his Red Hour Films banner, and the studio has begun that relationship by paying a whopping $2.6 million to Warner Bros. to import Stiller’s dream project, an adaptation of the Budd Schulberg classic Hollywood novel “What Makes Sammy Run.”
Stiller, who wrote the script with Jerry Stahl, will direct and star as Hollywood hustler Sammy Glick. Stiller and Red Hour partner Stuart Cornfeld will produce the film with Gene Kirkwood.
Red Hour, which had been based most recently at New Line, becomes the second major producing supplier that former New Line production prexy Michael De Luca has brought with him to DreamWorks. De Luca previously brought Team Todd to DreamWorks. He worked with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Walter Parkes and UTA to import a company that is poised to become a prolific supplier of comedies, most constructed for Stiller to potentially direct or star in.
Stiller and Kirkwood labored for years with “On the Waterfront” writer Schulberg at WB to mount a period film about the soulless Hollywood hustler Sammy Glick who, armed with little talent, gladly takes credit for the hard work of others and steps over them on his way to the top.
The $2.6 million that DreamWorks has paid to WB covers turnaround costs from the numerous drafts done of a property that languished, even as Stiller’s own currency has grown exponentially thanks to a string of hits like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Meet the Parents.” Stiller’s most recent directing effort was “Zoolander.”
“Sammy” becomes Red Hour’s second active project at the studio, with the company also developing “Date School,” a comic vehicle about the proprietor of a Learning Annex-type dating school who road tests his theories when he falls for a student. Abby Cohn and Mark Silverstein wrote the script, with Red Hour producing with Beau Flynn. Red Hour has active projects scattered at studios all over town, on which Stiller and Cornfeld will serve as producer, with Red Hour exec Rhoades Raider exec producing.
For instance, Stiller will next team onscreen with Drew Barrymore in “Duplex,” the Miramax-based Greg Mottola-directed comedy that is a co-production between Red Hour and Barrymore’s Flower Films, with lensing to begin Nov. 28.
Promising Red Hour projects at Fox 2000 include “The Hot Rock,” being written by Henry Griffin, and “The Hardy Men.”