NEW YORK — Director Gore Verbinski and screenwriter Joel Wyman are in the early planning stages to reteam on a MGM remake of the 1959 film “Ten Seconds to Hell.” The duo teamed for the first time on “The Mexican,” the DreamWorks film that opens Friday with Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini, and they will reteam on “Project 3,” a drama in which Roberts will star at Revolution later this year.
The original “Ten Seconds to Hell” is a drama about bomb disposal experts in post-war Berlin whose already tense working relationship gets ramped up whey they compete for the same woman. The original was written and directed by Robert Aldrich from the Lawrence Bachmann novel “The Phoenix.”
Verbinski has emerged as an A-list helmer, by way of the advertising world, distinguished by the celebrated blurb in which animatronic frogs croaked “Budweiser.” After graduating to a mouse in “Mouse Hunt,” Verbinski made the unlikely move up to a film that boasts a promising cast, all of whom committed on the strength of newcomer Wyman’s script. The duo then got Roberts to commit to “Project 3” on just the premise. That film had to be pushed back until after the strike is averted or settled, because director and scripter wanted to spend more time working on what’s a tricky concept drama. MGM, meanwhile, is tying up the rights to “Ten Seconds to Hell” for yet another collaboration for the Endeavor-repped duo.
EMINEM OFFERED ROLE: Rapper Eminem has been offered more than $4 million to join fellow rap artist DMX in “Lazarus,” a film that began as the fourth installment of “The Crow” franchise, but which has evolved on its own.
Hollywood has been after Eminem, who won three Grammy awards last week, for some time, and Imagine and Universal are working quickly to get an autobiographical Eminem movie film set up; Eminem would star and Imagine chairman Brian Grazer will produce. Now being scripted by Scott Silver, the Imagine pic covers the young white rapper’s struggle to make a name for himself. Eminem is writing songs with his producer Dr. Dre.
Eminem has turned them down other projects, including the chance to play a heavy opposite Denzel Washington in the Warner Bros. drama “Training Day.”
“Lazarus,” which is being produced by Edward R. Pressman, seems an unlikely film to tempt him. The film is being directed by video veteran Joseph Kahn, was written by James Gibson and recently rewritten by Joe Ide. In the new version, two young men die and are brought back from the dead. One is good and the other evil, and they battle for dominance in the hip-hop world.
DMX is set to play the good guy, and Eminem has been offered the role of his nemesis. Eminem is managed by Paul Rosenberg and co-managed by Stuart Parr at Shady Goliath and agented for film by UTA. The managers and the rapper were out of the country and the agency wouldn’t comment. If the Eminem deal for “Lazarus” comes together, it’s unclear when the film would be made, given the busy schedules of both rappers. DMX will be seen this month starring opposite Steven Seagal in “Exit Wounds.”
MONDAY” LICENSING FEE CREATES UNCERTAINTY: The pilot for the Supreme Court drama “First Monday” is supposed to start shooting the second Thursday in March, but the verdict is out because CBS and Paramount are haggling over licensing fees. With script by creator Don Bellisario (“JAG” and “Magnum, P.I.”), “First Monday” is headed by James Garner and Joe Mantegna. Sources said Paramount told CBS the show costs $1.4 million an episode, but the network has dug in, not wanting to spend more than $1.2 million per hourlong. Much of the show’s budget is devoted to paying talent, so it will be hard for the studio to make the show cheaper. And Par’s been quick to point out to CBS brass that its $1.4 million budget is $100,000 less than the license fee on the network’s drama “The Fugitive.” The intramural skirmish between CBS’s Leslie Moonves and Paramount’s Kerry McCluggage has left the creatives totally in limbo. A CBS source said that such haggling over license fees isn’t all that unusual, and that the network expects the pilot to be shot on schedule. Others are far less certain, considering that sets haven’t even been built. The plan was to construct the courtroom and shoot exteriors in D.C. At the least, it appears that the pilot start date will be delayed.
REVOLUTION IN YUKS MARKET: Ever on the prowl for Adam Sandler vehicles, Revolution made a preemptive mid-six figure deal for “Joint Custody,” a comedy pitch to be scripted by Randy Feldman, the scribe who got $1 million to script the Eddie Murphy comedy “Metro.” The buy was made by Revolution’s Todd Garner for a romantic comedy about a guy who cannot choose between two women in his life. The ladies take the decision out of his hands, and conspire on a plan of what to do with him. The script deal was made by Original Artists.
DISHINGS: Independent casting directors Mary Jo Slater and Steve Brooksbank have signed a deal with MTV Television to work on several of its series development projects. The duo will report to MTV brass John Miller, Jessica Swirnoff and Drew Tappon, and comes after they cast “The Andy Dick Show,” the pilot “Shotgun Love Dolls” and the series “Undressed.” Slater’s the mother of actor Christian Slater … Bruce Dern continues a resurgence. He was a bright spot in “All the Pretty Horses,” appeared in the Sundance entry “Madison” and is about to open in Sony’s “The Glass House.” Dern has just been cast in the indie comedy “Milwaukee, Minnesota.” He’ll play a copy shop owner, a tortured soul with a secret past, which could fit the description of many past Dern efforts. Pic’s directed by Alan Mindel and produced by Molly Mayeux … Woody Allen has switched cinematographers. Allen, who did his last several movies with “Raise the Red Lantern” cinematographer Chao Fei, will shoot his next film this spring with Haskell Wexler. Wexler won Oscars for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Bound for Glory,” and he was nominated for “Matewan.” The new film stars Allen, Debra Messing, Tea Leoni and Treat Williams, and Allen has just set Mark Webber (“American Buffalo”) to play his son. The young thesp just finished the Dan Algrant-directed “People I Know” with Al Pacino.