Eyeing an opportunity to scare up a “Rosemary’s Baby”-like thriller, Focus Features execs will give screen treatment to “The Intruders,” the fact-based story of a San Francisco socialite and TV talkshow star whose life was ruined when she moved into an apartment house built upon a former hanging ground and cemetery.
Universal-based Focus has acquired Pat Montandon’s 1975 book “The Intruders,” and set Gary Lennon to write the script for a film that the scribe said “has the true elements and the eerie atmosphere of those great paranoia and supernatural thrillers of the ’70s.”
The blue-eyed blond beauty Montandon was the toast of Bay Area society, and host of a top-rated TV talkshow. She wrote the book “How to Be a Party Girl” and was called the West Coast equivalent to Truman Capote because of the who’s who parties over which she presided. She reportedly was the basis for a character in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City.” Then she moved into 1000 Lombard, an apartment situated on the “crookedest street in the world.”
But bad things started happening after a tarot card reader put a curse on her because of a perceived insult during a party. First, she was harassed by a clan of drug users who rented the apartment above her and left unexplained blood stains on the ceiling and the fire escape. The place was always cold, even though the thermostat was set at 90 degrees and her dog became such a whimpering wreck that she had to give it to friends. Finally, when she was away, she allowed a close friend to stay in the apartment and she perished in a suspicious fire.
“It was a horrifying experience and took me five years to relax enough to write that book,” said Montandon. “Was the house cursed? I don’t know. I had been San Francisco’s golden girl and then everything went wrong for me. I found out from research that it was a former hanging ground, and a cemetery for London sailors who couldn’t be buried at Mission Delores. There were two suicides in the building. It was eerie.”
The pic will be produced by Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Larry Kennar, and Whitney Ransick, with Focus exec Kahli Small overseeing the pic.
Lennon will direct his script “.45” for Junction Films, and just rewrote “Heart and Soul” for producer Jerry Weintraub.