Paramount has set a November start date and signed Jack Black to star in “School of Rock,” a comedy that re-teams Black with “Orange County” scribe Mike White and producer Scott Rudin.
In “School,” Black will play a musician who becomes a substitute teacher in an uptight private school. The musician influences the young students with his antics and music. A guitarist and singer, Black, whose rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” was a highlight in “High Fidelity,” is a member of heavy metal parody duo Tenacious D.
The studio and Rudin expect to lock in a director this week, and the film will be on the studio’s summer 2003 release schedule. After “Orange County” grossed $45 million on an $18 million budget, White made deals with Par and Rudin for this film, followed by another that the scribe will direct.
Black, who co-hosted last months’ MTV Movie Awards with Sarah Michelle Gellar, is currently filming the Barry Levinson-directed black comedy “Envy,” with Ben Stiller. It is the second youth-oriented project Rudin has on the fasttrack at Par, with the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed “Lemony Snicket” poised to begin production in January in concert with Nickelodeon Films.
BAG THE BUCK: Fresh from teaming in the recently wrapped Columbia Pictures comedy “National Security,” Martin Lawrence and director Dennis Dugan will reunite on “Ghetto Buck.” They will develop at the studio a comedy based on a character Lawrence played in the Col laugher “Blue Streak.”
Lawrence will play at least three characters including the title role, which began as little more than a memorable bit player in “Streak.”
“He was that pizza delivery guy, the bucktoothed character created that was Martin in disguise as he tried to get into the police station,” said Dugan. “Martin has been honing that character for years and has always wanted to make a feature with him.”
They hatched a storyline for the bucktoothed character that Lawrence could sink his teeth into, which lent itself for other eccentric creations.
“Ghetto Buck is this sweet-natured guy who, through a variety of circumstances, becomes a media celebrity and gets swept up in the hype,” Dugan said. “National Security,” which stars Lawrence and Steve Zahn, opens in January. The Dugans will shepherd the film as they work on “Jumanji 2,” which is being scripted by Tom Ropelewski. Pic is not connected “Blue Streak” sequel Columbia is also developing. “Gehtto Buck producers are Michael Green, Peaches Davis and Robert Lawrence. Martin Lawrence will exec produce with Sharon Dugan. The Dugans and Lawrence are repped by UTA.
“DANDY” REDO: Columbia Pictures and producer Mace Neufeld want to remake the 1968 spy thriller “A Dandy in Aspic,” and have made a mid-six figure deal with scribes Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley. The scribes are coming off the Carl Franklin-directed Morgan Freeman-Ashley Judd drama “High Crimes.” This is their second project for the studio; they adapted the Robert Crais novel “Demolition Angel” for producer Laurence Mark. The original, about a double agent in Berlin who is given orders to kill himself, got awful reviews, but there was certainly a good excuse. Director Anthony Mann died during the film, and the film’s star, Laurence Harvey, tried his best to hold the film together, directing the remaining sequences himself. The scribes, who also wrote an untitled script for Phil Noyce to produce and direct at TF-1 and wrote the Showtime drama “Yeltsin,” which Roger Spottiswoode directed with Jeff Goldblum, Liev Schreiber and Anthony LaPaglia. They’re repped by Summit Agency and the Firm, with Col’s Amy Baer and Shannon Gaulding shepherding the project.
A FAMILY “MEMBER”: “Chocolat” producers David Brown and Kit Golden want to give movie treatment to the Clint McCown golf novel “The Member Guest,” and they’ve optioned both the book and script by Tom Mangan and McCown. They want Mangan to make his feature directing debut on the film. He is a vet Gotham producer with credits ranging from the HBO John Cusack starrer “The Jack Bull” and the indie feature “Tumbleweeds.” He is also the husband of producer Golden, a link that’s fine with Brown. “I believe in the theory of relativity, if the relatives have talent,” Brown said. “Even though I used to caddy for William Fox, the 20th Century Fox founder, and can still remember getting $5 tips out at Woodmere 100 years ago, I have no interest in golf whatsoever. But I was enthralled by the script and we are already looking to golf-sympathetic talent to play roles.” Pulitzer-nominated when published by Doubleday in 1995, McCown’s novel is “Gosford Park” set at a country club during its annual member/guest golf tournament, with the main characters covering players to concession stand workers. Brown and Golden are also working with Brad Pitt and Kristin Hahn on a Kathy McWorter-scripted adaptation of Leif Enger’s novel “Peace Like A River.” Separately, Brown continues his prolific pace. He and producer Joe Wizan have set scribe Marc Moss on “Roses are Red,” the third installment of Paramount’s Alex Cross film series. Brown is teamed with producer Barry Mendel and Robert Benton on an adaptation of the John O’Hara novel “Appointment in Samarra,” which Benton is writing and will direct.