Studios set timely tales

Col, Par building twin 9/11 pix

The terror attacks in London have come at a time when Hollywood seems ready — finally — to tell the tale of Sept. 11.

Paramount Pictures will finance and distribute an untitled feature about the rescue of two Port Authority police officers from the rubble of the World Trade Center. Oliver Stone will direct the film and Nicolas Cage will star.

The late Debra Hill and Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher initiated the project last year (Daily Variety, Aug. 3). Shamberg and Sher will produce with Moritz Borman, the former Intermedia CEO who produced Stone’s last film, “Alexander.”

Andrea Berloff, who recently signed to pen Par’s remake of “Don’t Look Now,” has written the script.

Timetable of the feature isn’t clear, but the Stone project is on a fast track with pre-production already started in New York.

Studio, recalibrated under chairman Brad Grey and prexy Gail Berman to make risky, cutting-edge films, is expected to get squarely behind the project.

Subject is one close to Grey’s heart: Before he left Brillstein-Grey, he guided New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s transition from City Hall to the private sector and produced the HBO doc “In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01,” a record of the catastrophic day and how it was managed by Giuliani and his team.

Paramount isn’t the only studio now moving briskly to tell the 9/11 story.

After optioning the Jim Dwyer-Kevin Flynn book “102 Minutes” in February, Columbia Pictures has already received a first script draft by Billy Ray, writer and director of “Shattered Glass.”

Col project, which is being produced by Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Michael Jackson and Sidney Kimmel, addresses the rescue attempts that took place between the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. and the collapse of the first tower at 10:28 a.m.

The Stone-directed project will focus on a much smaller story from the fateful day. Cage will portray one of the two Port Authority police officers, Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin, who were among the many rescuers who risked their lives by rushing into the smoking buildings; the duo were among the very few who survived the fall of the towers, thanks to the frantic rescue efforts of other rescuers who pulled them from the rubble before their oxygen ran out.

Television will likely also capture the tale.

ABC and producer Marc Platt are mobilizing a multipart film, written by Cyrus Nowrasteh. NBC, which had previously announced an eight-hour miniseries done with Imagine TV and screenwriter Graham Yost, abruptly pulled the plug on its project two weeks ago (Daily Variety, June 28).

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