‘Persuaders’ stokes Stiller

Thesp, Coogan will step into remake roles

A correction was made to this article on June 23, 2005.

Ben Stiller will star in a feature remake of 1971 British TV series “The Persuaders,” with DreamWorks, Hyde Park and Granada America partnered on the pic.

Stiller will play the role originated by Tony Curtis, and British comic actor Steve Coogan will take on Roger Moore’s part, as well as exec produce.

Stiller and his Red Hour Prods. partner Stuart Cornfeld will produce with Hyde Park chairman Ashok Amritraj and president Jon Jashni. Granada’s Stephen Davis and Paul Jackson will exec produce.

Series, which aired in the U.S. on ABC and in the U.K. for a season, revolved around the adventures of two rich playboys. Curtis was the street-smart millionaire from the Bronx, Moore the upper cruster. They mingled in exotic locales, romancing women and righting wrongs along the way.

Granada America, which has had great luck importing parent company ITV’s British reality series “Nanny 911,” “Airline” and “American Princess,” is moving to exploit a library of 39,000 hours of programming and films. “Persuaders” became Granada property when the company merged with Carlton.

Davis approached Amritraj, who remembered the series. “It was a longtime favorite of mine, and I thought it had the potential to be a very commercial film, especially with Ben and Steve Coogan,” Amritraj said.

Coogan and Stiller had developed a mutual desire to work together, and it was Coogan, who just wrapped the Sofia Coppola-directed “Marie Antoinette,” who suggested “The Persuaders.”

“As soon as Steve mentioned the series, the guys started riffing off each other, and you could see the chemistry potential,” said Red Hour’s Cornfeld.

Stiller and Cornfeld have a first-look deal at DreamWorks and are readying “Tropic Thunder” for Stiller to direct.

Hyde Park is partnered with the studio on the Kurt Russell/Dakota Fanning starrer “Dreamer.”

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