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Par sets ‘Yard’ lineup

Producers to sign rap stars, NFL players in redo

HOLLYWOOD — Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Snoop Dogg have decided to score with “The Longest Yard.”

Thesps will topline an updated remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds drama-comedy, with Paramount and Sony co-financing and lensing expected to begin in June. Studios will split the pot with Par handling domestic and Sony taking foreign.

“The Longest Yard” had been set up last summer by Paramount at Sandler’s Sony-based Happy Madison Prods. and MTV (Daily Variety, July 22, 2003). At that point, Sandler was not planning to star but came on board after reading Sheldon Turner’s script.

Rock has been offered the “Caretaker” role and Dogg has been asked to play a member of the team. Producers plan to sign a variety of rap stars, and current and former NFL players will round out the cast.

“Adam is a brilliant actor and comedian,” said Sherry Lansing, chairman of Par’s motion picture group. “‘The Longest Yard’ is the perfect film to showcase his genius.”

De Line era landmark

Sandler’s signing is the biggest deal made by Paramount since Donald De Line came on as studio co-president and motion picture group vice chair three weeks ago.

De Line noted that he worked with Sandler and Happy Madison partner Jack Giarraputo on “The Waterboy” while he was a Disney exec.

“Adam and Jack are great filmmakers and wonderful collaborators,” he added. “I am thrilled to be reuniting with them on ‘The Longest Yard.’ ”

Sandler will produce along with Giarraputo and MTV Film prexy Van Toffler and Exec VP David Gale. Par exec VP Brian Witten will oversee for the studio.

Sandler is currently working on “Spanglish,” Sony’s James L. Brooks cross-cultural comedy, and had been expected to move next to “Click,” a Sony-Revolution comedy. But his commitment to “The Longest Yard” means lensing on “Click” will wait until after “Yard” is completed.

Inmates, guards compete

The original “Yard” featured Reynolds as retired pro football quarterback Paul Crewe, who is sent to prison and forced by a sadistic warden to lead a team of inmates against a team of guards. Pic, helmed by Robert Aldrich and written by Albert S. Ruddy and Tracy Keenan Wynn, was a strong grosser for Paramount with about $46 million in domestic box office; its success helped establish Reynolds as a leading draw in that era.

“Although we plan to update quite a few things, the overall story will remain intact,” Giarraputo said. “We want to keep the same blend of comedy and grit that made the first one a classic.”

Sandler has starred in six films at Sony, including “Big Daddy,” “Mr. Deeds,” “Anger Management,” “Punch-Drunk Love” and the upcoming “50 First Kisses,” co-starring Drew Barrymore, due out Feb. 13. He’s toplined four films – “Big Daddy,” “Anger Management,” “Mr. Deeds” and Disney’s “The Waterboy” – that have each grossed over $125 million domestically.

Rock, one of the world’s most successful stand-up comics, last starred in DreamWorks’ “Head of State” in 2003. Hip-hop star Dogg has branched out into acting in projects suich as “Training Day” and “The Wash” and will appear next in “Starsky & Hutch.”

MGM recently bought Turner’s spec “Scrawl,” a thriller being produced by Turner and Apartment 3B; he also signed a blind script deal last week with 20th Century Fox TV.

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