×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ex-Journo turns the page as screenwriter

JOURNO SCHIFFS GEARS: Stephen Schiff left behind the deadline pressures he felt as a journalist and is now experiencing the stress of several high profile screenwriting jobs. The former New Yorker and Vanity Fair writer has turned out a high volume of copy since he adapted “Lolita” on a lark and got a fateful call from Adrian Lyne to direct it.

Schiff just made a deal to adapt the Patricia Cornwell novel “Cruel and Unusual” for director Joel Schumacher at Columbia, the latest in an endless succession of high profile jobs and crushing deadlines.

“The form isn’t that jarring because in profiles you create narrative and characters and the notes you receive on scripts is like being edited,” he said. “The biggest surprise is that I had far more down time between articles and reviews as a journalist.”

Most recently, Schiff’s draft of “The Emperor of Ocean Park” landed director Carl Franklin. He also scripted “Chippendales” and an adaptation of Don De Lillo’s “White Noise” for director Barry Sonnenfeld, adapted “Decoy” for Arnold Kopelson, and wrote a drama about a record exec with mob ties for Quincy Jones and Tribeca’s Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro. Schiff spent the past week at George Clooney’s Italian villa, huddling on the period gridiron pic “Leatherheads,” which Clooney will star in and direct.

“It’s a classic screwball romantic comedy set at the birth of the National Football League in 1925,” Schiff said. “There’s this great romantic triangle, with George this raffish aging pro football hero who falls in love with the girlfriend of a college great named the Blond Bullet. The strange thing is I’m rewriting a script by Steven Soderbergh, who’s extremely talented. I’d be looking at it, saying, wow, this is good. What could they possibly want me to change?”

RUSSO’S RUN: Add producer Aaron Russo to the growing list of wannabe California governors. The producer of pics “Trading Places” and “The Rose” has readied the $3,500 and 65 signatures necessary to become a candidate in the recall race. He’ll likely declare by Saturday’s deadline. Why take him more seriously than Gary Coleman or Gallagher? “First of all, I ran a formidable race for governor of Nevada and got 25% of the vote among four candidates to finish second in the Republican primary,” he said. “I never brought a movie in over budget, I’ve gotten six Oscar nominations and won an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy. And I am in touch with the feeling of people in the state of California.” And, as infomercial fanatics might remember, “Aaron Russo’s Mad As Hell.” That was the title of the TV-sold tape in which the colorful Russo harangued the intrusiveness of federal government and IRS. Those issues still chafe. “Thanks to the Patriot Act, the federal government can come into our houses, tap our phones, access computer files, all under the guise of security,” he said. “This is not what America is about. We do not live in a totalitarian society. California should be a leader in changing what is happening in Washington and if I was governor, I would use that power to stop this intrusion.” Russo would have run again for Nevada governor in 2002, but contracted bladder cancer. “I beat the shit out of a very aggressive tumor with alternative medicine. It saved my prostate and bladder, which doctors wanted to cut out,” he said. Russo said the only thing that could derail his run is the imminent launch of a film production venture.

CHAN CLAN CHASES COIN: Studios are paying big bucks for remakes rights to Asian horror films. Will they want to be involved in the first go-round? Peter Chan, the award-winning Hong Kong helmer who most recently produced “The Eye,” will haunt studios next week with WMA and Andre Morgan, hoping to scare up a preemptive deal for his next horror outing, “Come to Me.” He plans to direct it as a Hong Kong pic unless a studio makes an offer for a straight-to-Hollywood effort. “Instead of waiting until the movie has been made, studios can join us on the ground floor,” Morgan said. “Peter is a major director in Asia who speaks fluent English. We’ll tell studios they can be involved now or buy it later as a remake and hope it doesn’t become another hot idea that languishes in development.”

More Film

  • Writers Guild Posts Scathing Video Attack

    Writers Guild Posts Scathing Video Attack on Agency Packaging

    The Writers Guild of America, which is threatening to require members to fire their agents, has posted a scathing video attacking how major agencies conduct packaging. Titled “Agency Conflicts of Interest,” the video explains that compensation for writers has declined by 23% between 2014 and 2016 and blames the agencies for taking packaging fees on [...]

  • CAA Owner TPG Buying Payroll Specialist

    CAA Owner TPG Buying Payroll Specialist Entertainment Partners

    TPG Capital, the massive private equity firm that owns Creative Artists Agency, is buying payroll specialist Entertainment Partners for an undisclosed price. Entertainment Partners’ management team, led by president and CEO Mark Goldstein, will continue in their roles. The agreement was announced Tuesday with plans to close the deal during the second quarter. “We’re thrilled [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Agents Accuse Writers Guild of Threatening to Throw 'Industry Into Chaos'

    UPDATE – The dealmakers appear to be getting nowhere. Negotiators for Hollywood agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved little progress at their seventh session on Tuesday, with a chaotic scenario looming on April 7. “When Guild leadership is ready to move on from their declared threatening phase, we stand ready to work [...]

  • Zoe Lister-Jones The Craft

    'The Craft' Remake Finds Director in Zoe-Lister Jones

    “Life in Pieces” star Zoe Lister-Jones will write and direct Sony Pictures’ remake of “The Craft” for Blumhouse and Red Wagon Entertainment. Doug Wick, the producer of the original “The Craft,” will return in the same capacity along with partner Lucy Fisher through their Red Wagon banner. Jason Blum is also producing and his Blumhouse [...]

  • Carol Burnett

    Carol Burnett's Mother-Daughter Story 'Carrie and Me' in Development as a Movie

    Carol Burnett’s bestseller “Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story” is in the works as a movie at Focus Features with Burnett, Tina Fey, Eric Gurian, and Steven Rogers producing. Burnett will produce through her Mabel Cat Productions with Fey and Gurian under their production banner Little Stranger along with Rogers (“I, Tonya”). The sibling [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Plans for Agency Pact Expiration: 'There Will Be Difficult Moments'

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent members contingency plans for the possible expiration of its agency franchise agreement on April 7 — and admitted that it may be a rocky road. Members received the letter Tuesday from the guild’s negotiating committee as the WGA and agents were about the hold their seventh [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content