Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Mike Lobell, the veteran producer whose 14-years of persistence helped make the remake Gambit happen, is getting close on three other projects with strong elements. He has re-teamed with former partner, writer-director Andrew Bergman, on A Film By Alan Stuart Eisner, an ensemble comedy which so far has Project X‘s Oliver Cooper, Shirley MacLaine and Robin Williams attached, with Rob Reiner making a cameo. Lobell reports that the film has added Sienna Miller, Isla Fisher and Audra MacDonald. Eisner is a comedy dealing with a young man making a documentary to learn what happened to his family during WWII. He is out looking for financing.

Gambit, by the way, ended up with Michael Hoffman directing a script by Joel and Ethan Coen. Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman star and CBS Films is releasing.

At the same time, Lobell is getting traction on This Man This Woman, the adult love story written by Frederic Raphael. The project has gotten a boost with the attachment of Richard Gere, who long ago sparked to a film which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a marriage. This was the picture that once nearly went into production with Meg Ryan and Sean Penn. Lobell and Gere will now look for a director and their female lead.

That project has been in development for 17 years, but that is nothing compared to Man On Spikes, the first novel from Eight Men Out author Eliot Asinof, that now has Billy Crystal in line to direct it, with talks underway with New York playwright Gabe McKinley to adapt the book. It is a complex story dealing with a young man’s struggle to make it to the big leagues during the 1940′s. The book has been hailed by the likes of Roger Kahn and late New York Post sports columnist Jimmy Cannon. Lobell was a neighbor of Asinof in New York, when Lobell was trying to become a baseball player. Before the book was published in 1955, the author gave Lobell a copy and urged him to keep hustling. Who knew that years later, that advice would manifest itself in a different way, with Lobell the producer still hustling to turn Asinof’s book into a movie.