Field trip for Searchlight

'Bedroom' helmer checks in to shoot Graff-penned pic

This article was updated on May 13, 2004.

Todd Field has committed to direct “The Crowded Room” for Fox Searchlight and New Regency. It’s the true story of a man who, after being arrested for rape, was diagnosed with a multiple personality disorder that had 24 distinctively different manifestations.

Field will produce with Alexandra Milchan. Fox Searchlight will co-finance with New Regency and handle domestic distribution. Todd Graff wrote the script.

The project has long been coveted by actors. John Cusack was once set to play it for James Cameron until a legal spat led to the director’s exit. Brad Pitt nearly made it with David Fincher, Sean Penn with Steven Soderbergh, and Leonardo DiCaprio with Danny DeVito, to name a few.

It has been two years since Field directed “In the Bedroom.” He had plenty of offers, but chose instead to build up an inventory of homegrown directing vehicles at Standard Film Company, the DreamWorks-based shingle he formed with Leon Vitali.

That work has paid off: if the actor he wants for “The Crowded Room” isn’t available in the fall, Field can delay the pic and choose any of five other projects, each of which he is determined to direct.

There is the H.G. Bissenger-script “Rose”; the Ethan Gross/Paul Todisco-scripted “Backroads” (which SFC is producing with Frank Darabont’s Darkwoods banner); and the Carrol Cartwright/Nancy Doyne-scripted “Eastside Westside,” a pic Field will produce with Teitler/Weinstock. Then there is also another long dormant gem he has helped resuscitate: Field will direct “The Ninth Man” for DreamWorks, a WWII thriller which 30 years ago nearly became Steven Spielberg’s followup to “Jaws.” Pic will be produced by Richard and Harrison Zanuck and David Brown, with a script just turned in to the studio by Ross Parker.

The wildcard for Field’s fall slot is “Little Children,” the novel by “Election” author Tom Perrotta that Field set up at New Line in a splashy sale earlier this year. Field, who is producing with Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, is now co-scripting with Perrotta a script about a community full of parents so bent on raising Harvard-caliber kids that it leaves their marriages in shambles.