‘Dust’ settles at Par

DreamWorks unable to finalize distrib deal

Paramount has agreed to handle domestic distribution and partly finance Robert Towne’s “Ask the Dust,” set to begin lensing this week with Colin Farrell and Salma Hayak starring.

DreamWorks had been presumed to be the distributor for “Dust” and had held extensive talks to do so but wasn’t able to finalize a deal. Par will also distribute in some overseas territories.

Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise are producing with Jonas McCord through their Paramount-based C/W Prods. shingle, which also produced Towne’s last directing effort, “Without Limits.”

Towne has been attempting since the 1970s to direct a film version of “Ask the Dust,” John Fante’s Depression-era novel. Story centers on a young man who comes to Los Angeles to become a novelist and falls in love with a Mexican waitress.

DreamWorks recently dropped out its deal with Paramount to co-finance Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy “Elizabethtown,” a Cruise/Wagner production starring Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom (Daily Variety, March 12). DreamWorks and Paramount remain partners on “Stepford Wives,” “Collateral” and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.”