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Asbury, Southpaw in ‘Imaginary’ league

Lewis sets scribe to helm pic

Southpaw Entertainment’s Richard Lewis has set “Shrek 2” director Kelly Asbury to write and direct “Imaginary Children,” a live-action/CGI fantasy adventure about a cartoonist whose creations inhabit his house and cause an estrangement from his son, who can’t measure up to them.

Asbury directed “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”

The film was hatched from an idea by Lewis and Scott Peters.

“The inspiration came when Charles Schultz announced he was retiring to spend time with his family and died right after,” Lewis said. “I’d always thought of his family as the Peanuts gang, and recalled that Candice Bergen practically grew up with a wooden puppet for a brother because her father, Edgar, spent so much time on his act that he had little for his child. Here, the animated characters live in the house with the father and a son who’s completely turned off to his dad.”

Asbury is just one of several writers who’ve been engaged by Lewis, the former Trilogy partner who is a producer on the Ray Romano starrer “Eulogy,” which debuted at Sundance.

Lewis also produced the David Duchovny-directed “House of D,” starring Robin Williams and Tea Leoni, which just wrapped.

Lewis produced “Eulogy” with Kirk D’Amico and Stephen Haft and co-financed with Myriad Pictures, Cherry Road Films and Equity Pictures.

Projects penned

Lewis runs Southpaw while he partners with eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll in Ovation Entertainment, an entity that is an active part of several projects on which writers were hired recently. They include an untitled comedy written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, whose credits include “Space Jam,” two installments of “The Santa Clause” and “Soccer Dads,” a comic vehicle for Will Ferrell.

Southpaw has engaged James V. Hart (“Tuck Everlasting”) to script “August Rush,” a musical about a youngster who connects with his lost parents through a shared musical gift. Lewis, who hatched the story with Nick Castle and Paul Castro, has brought in “Gladiator” composer Hans Zimmer to write the score and music.

Lewis is partnered with Nicolas Cage and Norm Golightly’s Saturn Films on sci-fi thriller “The Volunteer.” Pic’s a potential vehicle for Cage, and they’ve hired “Frailty” scribe Brent Handley to rewrite a script by Sam Egan.

Studio-free financing

The development of the projects is being bankrolled by Lewis from investors including Ovation’s Skoll. Lewis said it allows him the luxury of not having to bowl over a studio head with a pitch.

“I wanted the chance to develop from scratch and to be able to come to a studio with a fully fleshed out project and say, ‘Do you want to make this,’ instead of ‘Do you like this movie idea?,’ ” Lewis said. “It’s a truly independent structure where studios will be critical participants, but primarily for marketing and distribution.”

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