Buscemi’s Plum assignment

It's a 'Lonesome' time for actor-director

NEW YORK — Actor-director Steve Buscemi will undertake his third feature stint behind the camera with “Lonesome Jim,” a dysfunctional family comedy-drama starring Liv Tyler and Casey Affleck to be produced by Buscemi and Galt Niederhoffer’s Plum Pictures.

The first screenplay penned by New York fiction writer James C. Strouse, story follows the return of 28-year-old Jim (Affleck) to his hometown in Indiana, where he is forced, after failing to make it on his own, to move back in with his parents and deal with crippling family obligations. Tyler plays a woman Jim meets in a local bar, whose young son begins treating him like a father.

“I often get offered scripts that are closer to what I’ve done as an actor, like the Coen brothers’ films or Tarantino, and although I love working with them, that’s not me as a director,” Buscemi told Daily Variety. “I really like this script a lot because it’s closer in tone to ‘Trees Lounge.’ It was something I could relate to more; I just loved the writing and I loved the characters.”

Plenty of praise

“This is honestly the best script I’ve ever read,” Niederhoffer said. “It has everything I love in a movie: It’s funny, moving, smart, plus it has a really good joke about a bedpan. With Steve Buscemi directing, this is the dream team for this project.”

Producers are in talks with several studios for financing and distribution. Shooting is scheduled for February.

Buscemi originally had intended to make his next directing project “Queer,” based on the novel about the period spent by author William S. Burroughs in Mexico City in the late 1940s and early ’50s.

However, given that “Lonesome Jim” requires a winter backdrop, that film has been moved up, with the “Queer” shoot now planned for fall 2004. Oren Movermann wrote the screenplay, with Buscemi producing, directing and starring. James Grauerholz, who oversees the Burroughs estate, will serve as exec producer.

Cannes connection

Buscemi previously directed the features “Trees Lounge,” which premiered at the Directors Fortnight in Cannes; and “Animal Factory,” which bowed at Sundance. He received a 2001 Emmy nomination for outstanding directing of a drama series for the “Pine Barrens” episode of “The Sopranos.”

Buscemi is directing an episode and has a semiregular acting role in the fifth season of “The Sopranos,” which premieres in the spring. He will next be seen in theaters in Tim Burton’s “Big Fish,” from Sony, opening Dec. 10.

The actor-director, who is repped by the Firm Management and Endeavor, recently was honored for his career contribution to independent film at the IFP Gotham Awards. Buscemi has no plans to appear before cameras in “Lonesome Jim.”

Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Reagan Silber recently boarded Gotham-based independent production banner Plum Pictures as a partner and investor.

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