As the NBC sitcom “Friends” heads toward its ninth season, Matthew Perry continues to forge a future in features.
Paramount has made a deal with Perry that calls for him to star in two films. First is “One of Us,” a drama about an extraterrestrial encounter, written by “Phenomenon” scribe Gerald Di Pego.
Perry will exec produce, with Alan Riche and Tony Ludwig producing. Paramount paid mid-six against seven figures for the script. The deal comes after Perry completed starring with Elizabeth Hurley in the Reginald Hudlin-directed comedy “Serving Sara,” which bows in August.
In “One of Us,” Perry plays a man who returns to his home town to run the family business after his dad dies. A pair of aliens move to town with an eye toward taking one person for an experiment, and Perry falls in love with the female alien, who’s cloaked in fetching human form.
In the deal made by CAA and manager Doug Chapin, Perry will follow with a second Par comedy. It’s also the second Par project for Riche and Ludwig, who with Julia Pistor are producing “Where’s Waldo?” for Par and Nickelodeon, scripted by Adam Rifkin.
WILL WELLS SPRING PAIRING? Before Paramount announced Tom Cruise and C-W partner Paula Wagner would produce H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” as a feature, word circulated in Hollywood that the pic would reteam Cruise and his “Minority Report’ director Steven Spielberg. Spielberg wasn’t mentioned in the announcement, nor was Par saying Cruise would be the pic’s star. The studio told Dish there was no director and a spokesman for Spielberg denied he was involved. Then again, that was the response when Dish revealed C-W was circling David Fincher to helm “Mission: Impossible 3,” an alliance subsequently announced in stereo. Stay tuned.
TERRY TUNED FOR PIX: Ron Terry, a musician and co-founder of Concerts West who exec produced and Showtime’s Jimi Hendrix biopic “Hendrix,” has set a pair of music-themed pics with Esparza/Katz’s Robert Katz. With writing partner Teresa Kounin, Terry will script “Twilight of the Gods,” a dramatization of the link between opera legend Richard Wagner’s music and Adolph Hitler. Uli Edel will direct. The writers also will script a biopic, for Harold Becker to direct, of concert promoter Bill Graham, a subject Terry knows better than most.
The Brooklyn-born Terry began as a rhythm guitarist who with a few partners formed Concerts West and created the format for the live concert business. “I wanted to do something with Jimi and Cream, but you had too much equipment for small clubs and if you played baseball stadiums, you used the baseball PA systems that sounded terrible. I had this idea to put a sound system together, go on the road and four-wall gyms and venues around the country.” SPNS, a radio chain owned by Danny Kaye and Frank Sinatra, was putting together the first FM network, and Terry persuaded them to invest $1.5 million to launch a concept that caught fire immediately. “There we were, carrying $300,000 cash in paper bags every Monday morning after a weekend’s receipts,” said Terry. “We were all hippies, and the idea of this kind of money was inconceivable.” Though he also promoted Led Zeppelin and other groups, Terry cashed out before the business got to stadium-level tours. He got his movie break when the Hendrix project dragged and, after giving detailed notes, was asked to write a script that got the pic made.
That led to the Esparza/Katz alliance, on which Katz is partnered with German financier and producer Klaus Boldenborn and Net Intl. The Graham pic is a natural, but Katz is equally passionate on the controversial Wagner project. “Even though Wagner died in 1872, Hitler took most of his theories from Wagner, and his family was Hitler’s financial backer,” Terry said. “…(Hitler) would quote Wagner in his writings, in talking about exterminating the Jews and getting rid of the French.… (In) his opera, ‘The Ring,’ … the bad characters, the nibelungs, were portrayed in Wagner’s mind as Jews. The Aryan supremacy was looked at as this pure generation out to save the world.” Terry, who’ll also produce and compose the soundtracks of both films, is repped by Original Artists.