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Orson Scott Card Short Story Lures ‘A Late Quartet’s Yaron Zilberman

Mike Fleming

Orson Scott Card Short Story Lures ‘A Late Quartet’s Yaron ZilbermanYaron Zilberman is set to write and direct a feature based on Orson Scott Card‘s classic science-fiction short story, Unaccompanied Sonata. The property has been optioned by Nick Wechsler, Chockstone Pictures’ Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz and Opening Night Productions. The film will be titled Sonata, with Wechsler, Schwartz, Schwartz and Zilberman producing. The latter made his feature directorial debut on the 2012 film A Late Quartet. Tamar Sela will be executive producer and Roger Schwartz a co-producer.

First published in Omni magazine in 1979, Unaccompanied Sonata is about a child who has been brought up to be a musical prodigy, and who is kept away from other musical influences to keep his creative expressions pure. Raised alone in a cabin by servants, he spends his days toiling on a complicated musical instrument, as he’s kept from listening to the works of others. Finally, he gains exposure to the works of Bach, and when discovered by a “watcher,” the man is torn away from his lifelong composition and barred from making music ever again. Read More »

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Chockstone Pictures, Nick Wechsler Land ‘The Kind Worth Killing’

Mike Fleming

swansEXCLUSIVE: Chockstone Pictures partners Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz have teamed with Nick Wechsler to acquire film rights to the Peter Swanson novel The Kind Worth Killing. The book had made the rounds under the title The Lonely Lives Of Murderers but just got a new title. The novel focuses on a particularly ruthless female killer. On a late-night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets fellow passenger Lily Kintner. Thinking he will never see her again, he tells her he’s been thinking about murdering his faithless wife. When they land, Lily tells the guy she wants to help, and they form a strange twisted, bond plotting the wife’s demise. He doesn’t know she has some experience in this kind of thing. The book will be published January by HarperCollins.

“For Lily, murder is a lifestyle,” said Paula Mae Schwartz. “The gorgeous femme fatale that Swanson has created will win the hearts of men and the sympathy of women.” She will produce with Steve Schwartz and Wechsler while Roger Schwartz and Felicity Aldridge will be co-producers. The deal was brokered by Intellectual Property Group’s Joel Gotler, and attorney David Fox repped Chockstone. Read More »

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Chockstone, Nick Wechsler Buy Rights To Sociopath Saga ‘The Truth And Other Lies’

Mike Fleming

sachaEXCLUSIVE: Chockstone Pictures partners Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz have teamed with Nick Wechsler to acquire film rights to The Truth And Other Lies, a novel by German screenwriter Sascha Arango. This comes days after the trio acquired the forthcoming Olen Steinhauer spy novel All The Old Knives. Arango’s novel caught buzz coming out of the London Book Fair, and the producers have set Arango to write the script.

The main character is famous author Henry Hayden, whose façade of being a virtuous, loving husband threatens to fall by the wayside when his mistress becomes pregnant. He tries to get rid of his girlfriend but makes a terrible mistake in the process. In order to keep the past from catching up to him, the author must manage a series of lies and complications to stay ahead of the truth.

“The anti-hero of the novel, Henry Hayden, is a sociopath reminiscent of Tom Ripley, but in some ways, Henry has already bettered the instruction,” said Steve Schwartz. Read More »

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Chockstone Pictures And Nick Wechsler Pull Out ‘All The Old Knives’

Mike Fleming

olenEXCLUSIVE: Chockstone Pictures partners Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz have teamed with Nick Wechsler to acquire film rights to All The Old Knives, the forthcoming spy thriller by Olen Steinhauer that will be published next year. They’ve also set the author to write the script.

Steinhauer is the American writer of spy novels including bestsellers The Cairo Affair, The Tourist, and the Milo Weaver Trilogy. Said Paula Mae Schwartz: “Ex-CIA agent and devoted mother, the female character (Celia) is a true superwoman. Irresistible.”

A couple of studios were circling, but the Schwartzes and Wechsler don’t mess around when they like something, as happened when they preempted the Cormac McCarthy spec script The Counselor, which Ridley Scott directed.

The book takes place in the idyllic town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, where two ex-lovers–one CIA spy and one ex-CIA spy–meet for dinner and to reminisce. They relive their memories of the disastrous hijacking of Royal Jordanian Flt 127, which ended in the death of all onboard. It’s a failure that haunts the CIA’s Vienna station to this day. The question is whether Henry has come to dinner to rekindle the romance or get to the bottom of a conspiracy. It also becomes clear that one of the ex-lovers may not survive the meal.

Wechsler called the book “an extraordinary two-hander that will attract extraordinary talent.” The trio will produce while Chockstone development exec Roger Schwartz and Wechsler exec Felicity Aldridge will be … Read More »

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Rupert Sanders To Helm Frederick Forsyth Thriller Novel ‘The Kill List’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders has come attached to direct The Kill List, an adaptation of the new Frederick Forsyth thriller that was acquired by producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler. Give those producers credit for wasting no time, as they just bought the book last month. After they acquired the Cormac McCarthy spec script The Counselor, they had that film in production in record time at Fox with Ridley Scott directing and a cast headed by Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz.

Sanders, who made his feature directing debut on Huntsman, has always been a big fan of Forsyth’s espionage thrillers, and Kill List reminded him of this Hemingway line: “There is no hunting like the hunting of men, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

The producers are now meeting with writers to jump start the adaptation, and Sanders will be very involved in that process. Pic will be a co-production between Chockstone Pictures and Nick Wechsler Productions. Roger Schwartz is a co-producer. Read More »

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‘The Counselor’ Producers Again Strike Fast To Pre-empt Frederick Forsyth’s ‘The Kill List’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In a six-figure deal, producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler have preemptively acquired rights to The Kill List, the new novel by Day Of The Jackal author Frederick Forsyth. The contemporary espionage tale is described as an intricate chess game between a brilliant Marine, an Israeli agent, a teenage hacker and a mysterious psychopathic cleric. The novel will be published in September by Penguin. Forsyth also wrote The Fourth Protocol and The Odessa File. Schwartz, Schwartz and Wechsler will produce and Roger Schwartz is co-producer. They bought this preemptively as they did The Counselor, which went from a Cormac McCarthy spec to a green lit movie at lightning speed. Matching the gritty intensity that McCarthy has poured into books like No Country For Old Men, the script quickly drew director Ridley Scott and a cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Fox releases it November 15. The producers got an early peek at Forsyth’s novel along with one or two others, but they moved quickest. Their plan is to meet with writers, and go as far as they need to in packaging the film before it finds a landing place at a major studio. CAA, Ed Victor and attorney David Fox negotiated the deal.

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Next Jonathan Stone Novel Acquired By Producers Behind Cormac McCarthy Adaptations ‘The Road’ And ‘Counselor’

By | Tuesday October 30, 2012 @ 12:00pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Producers Nick Wechsler and Steve Schwartz have acquired film rights to the next novel from author Jonathan Stone to be published sometime in 2014. Stone had been calling it In The Barn but it sounds like that title will likely be changed. The book centers on Stanley Peke, a tough old guy who survived the Nazis as a feral child in the Polish woods and became a success in American business. But his age makes him a target for thieves who prey on the elderly and steal their possessions. This time they picked on the wrong man, and Stanley’s going to get it all back in a powerful, harrowing and ultimately uplifting story. Chockstone Pictures and Nick Wechsler Productions are producing, reteaming the companies behind The Road and upcoming The Host and The Counselor, among other book-to-film titles. Wechsler, Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz are producers. Roger Schwartz and Lizzy Bradford are co-producing and Kevin Cleary and Patti Vasquez of Pooka Entertainment shopped the book in Hollywood and are exec producing. Read More »

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Nick Wechsler Acquires Michael Koryta Novel ‘The Prophet’, ‘Magic Mike’ Scribe Reid Carolin To Adapt

By | Thursday May 31, 2012 @ 3:46pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Producer Nick Wechsler has acquired The Prophet, the upcoming Michael Koryta novel that will be published in August by Little, Brown and Company. Wechsler hasn’t yet set it up for financing, but he has already attached Reid Carolin to adapt it. Carolin wrote the script for Magic Mike, the upcoming Steven Soderbergh-directed male stripper pic that was hatched by Channing Tatum and Carolin, who are partners in Iron Horse Entertainment. Wechsler produced Magic Mike with Tatum, Carolin and Gregory Jacobs.

The Prophet is a tale of two distant brothers in a small Ohio town whose torment over the murder of their sister in their teens is compounded when another teenaged girl is killed. One of the brothers is determined to avenge that killing, even if it means committing murder himself. “We’ve been fans of Michael’s masterful writing for some time, and know that this powerful new novel is perfect for the screen,” Wechsler said. “We were drawn to its themes of family, faith and fear, all set against the backdrop of a gripping serial killer mystery. This story is a perfect mix of thrills, strong characters, and unbreakable bonds.” Read More »

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Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Cormac McCarthy Sells His First Spec Script

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While Cormac McCarthy’s novels have been turned into No Country For Old Men, The Road and All the Pretty Horses, he’s left the film adaptations to others. McCarthy has surprised everybody by writing his first spec screenplay. Nick Wechsler, Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, the producing trio behind the adaptation of McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winner The Road, have just closed a deal to take The Counselor off the table with a preemptive acquisition.

The terrain of the script is reminiscent of the rough and tumble world depicted in No Country For Old Men. The protagonist in The Counselor is a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe in to the drug business without getting sucked down. It is a bad decision and he tries his best to survive it and get out of a desperate situation. While McCarthy’s ICM agents Binky Urban and Ron Bernstein were expecting McCarthy to deliver his next novel, he instead surprised them with the spec script before returning to the book. The producers moved quickly and spent their own money to buy it in a sizable deal. They tell me they will go looking for a filmmaker as they talk to financiers.

“The spec falls smack in the middle of what everyone responds to with Cormac’s novels,” Wechsler said. Steve Schwartz told me: “Since McCarthy … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Warner Bros Acquires Stripper Pic ‘Magic Mike,’ Bares June 29 Release Date

Mike Fleming

As predicted here, Warner Bros completed its acquisition of domestic rights on the Steven Soderbergh-directed Magic Mike, which stars Alex Pettyfer and Channing Tatum in a Saturday Night Fever-type coming-of-age drama about a young exotic dancer who is schooled by a veteran of the trade. The studio just dated the film for release on June 29, 2012. Soderbergh and Tatum funded the film, and FilmNation is selling offshore territories at AFM. The script was written by Tatum’s Iron Horse Entertainment partner Reid Carolin, and they are producing with Nick Wechsler and Gregory Jacobs.

The film, based on the world Tatum observed when he was a male stripper, has a beefcake cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez and Kevin Nash. Warner Bros recently released Soderbergh’s Contagion, and is prepping his next film, The Man From UNCLE.

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Steven Soderbergh’s Stripper Movie ‘Magic Mike’ Gyrating Toward Warner Bros?

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While several studios are in the mix on the Steven Soderbergh-directed Magic Mike, I’m told that Warner Bros has emerged as the frontrunner to acquire domestic distribution rights and that a deal could be done by next week. The film, which is wrapping this week, stars Alex Pettyfer and Channing Tatum in a Saturday Night Fever-type coming-of-age drama about a young exotic dancer who is schooled by a veteran of the trade. The picture’s budget was ponied up by Soderbergh and Tatum, with Glen Basner at FilmNation making offshore sales. Script was written by Reid Carolin. He’s Tatum’s production partner and they are producing the film with Nick Wechsler and Gregory Jacobs.

The film’s based on Tatum’s own experiences when he became an exotic dancer before breaking into acting. The film has drawn an ab-centric cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello. Warner Bros seems a good fit for the material. The studio just distributed Soderbergh’s hit Contagion, and Warner Bros will make his next film, The Man From UNCLE, which is in the process of getting a new title character after George Clooney exited the project because he’s having some surgery.

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‘White Collar’s Matt Bomer Joins Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Magic Mike’

Mike Fleming

Matt Bomer, star of the USA series White Collar, has joined the ab-worthy cast of hunks who’ll play male strippers in Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh’s next film. So far, Soderbergh has cast Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughey. Magic Mike is a Saturday Night Fever-style coming of age story. Tatum plays the title character, who schools a young dancer (Pettyfer) in how to hustle on and off the stage. The inspiration was Channing’s own experiences as a stripper when he was 19. Nick Wechsler is producing with Tatum, Gregory Jacobs and Reid Carolin. Carolin wrote the script. Soderbergh has called the film “sexy, funny and shocking” using Saturday Night Fever as a model. Bomer will next be seen in the Andrew Niccol-directed In Time, playing the pivotal role of a wealthy man who gives the protagonist (Justin Timberlake) a shot at a longer life. Check out that trailer:

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Open Road To Acquire U.S. Distribution On Stephenie Meyer’s ‘The Host’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Open Road, the upstart distribution company formed by theater chains AMC and Regal, is making its second big acquisition. Tom Ortenberg’s company is acquiring domestic distribution rights to The Host, the Andrew Niccol-directed adaptation of Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer’s novel. I’m told that the there were at least three other distributors trying to get this and that the deal will be a seven-figure minimum guarantee, a healthy P&A commitment, and gross for participants that include the author.

Saoirse Ronan is set to play heroine Melanie Stryder, one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls, parasites that invade human bodies, fuse to each person’s consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. Melanie is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer. While Wanderer’s goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories and feelings that she is driven to reconnect with Melanie’s old life, which includes falling for Melanie’s boyfriend. The result is a complex, romantic and emotional human/alien love triangle. Nick Wechsler, Meyer, Paula Mae Schwartz and Steve Schwartz are producing. Inferno’s Marc Butan, Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson are exec producers and Roger Schwartz is co-producer. Read More »

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CBS Films Targets ‘American Assassin’ To Launch Mitch Rapp Franchise, Sets Ed Zwick To Direct

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has redrawn its plans to launch a film franchise based on the Vince Flynn novel series about CIA agent  and Mitch Rapp. Ed Zwick has come aboard to direct an adaptation of American Assassin, a bestseller published last fall by Atria. Though it was the 11th book in the  Rapp series, American Assassin was a prequel that told the story of how, as a college scholar and athlete, tragedy forged Rapp’s path to become a ruthless hunter of terrorists for the CIA.

CBS Films, which first acquired the rights to Flynn’s popular book series in 2008, originally intended to start with Consent to Kill, an action-packed thriller that contains several twists that change Rapp’s life permanently. CBS Films got as far as attaching Antoine Fuqua to direct and courting Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell and Lost’s Matthew Fox to play Rapp.

Instead, Flynn’s prequel novel provided a way to start the series at the very beginning of Rapp’s covert career. That means they will tap the strong crop of young leading men, much the way that Paramount Pictures signed Chris Pine to re-launch its Jack Ryan series. Consent to Kill will come later.

Zwick is writing the script with partner Marshall Herskovitz, and they will join Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler as producers. Zwick last directed Love and Other Drugs, and Defiance and Blood Diamond before that.

“We were prepping Consent to Kill when Vince told us he was going … Read More »

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Cannes: Andrew Niccol To Direct Saoirse Ronan In Stephenie Meyer’s ‘The Host’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Andrew Niccol has been set as the director of The Host, directing his scripted adaptation of the bestselling novel by Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer. The project, which is being shopped here at Cannes by Inferno Entertainment and producers Nick Wechsler and Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz, will star Saoirse Ronan.

After resisting overtures to sell the book, Meyer finally entrusted it with the producers, who gave her strong creative input. She chose Niccol originally because she was a fan of his film Gattaca and script for The Truman Show. While Niccol adapted the book into the current script, he exited to make the film Now, which he has completed with Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy starring. The producers went down the road with several directors, but talks with Niccol to return started heating up in recent weeks. Ronan ramped up interest in the film when she was set to star.

Ronan will play Melanie Stryder, one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls. These parasites invade human bodies, fuse to each person’s consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. The story follows Melanie as she is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer, something of a legend because of all of the “hosts” she has attached to on numerous planets. Wanderer’s goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, but instead the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories and feelings that she is driven to reconnect with Melanie’s old life, which includes falling for Melanie’s boyfriend. The result is a complex, romantic and emotional human/alien love triangle. Read More »

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‘Twilight Saga’ Author Stephenie Meyer’s ‘The Host’ Lands Saoirse Ronan To Star

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Saoirse Ronan has been set to star in The Host, the screen adaptation of the bestselling novel by Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer. Scripted by Andrew Niccol, the film figures to be one of the hot titles when Inferno launches sales at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival next week. Niccol, who was originally set to direct, might resurface as the filmmaker.

Ronan, the Oscar-nominated star of Atonement, The Lovely Bones and most recently Hanna, will play Melanie Stryder, one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls. These parasites invade human bodies, fuse to each person’s consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. Melanie is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer, something of a legend because of all of the “hosts” she has attached to on numerous planets. Wanderer’s goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, but instead the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories and feelings, the alien is driven to reconnect with Melanie’s old life.

The concept is more of a visual challenge than Meyer’s Twilight Saga books, but one thing they plan is for Ronan to play both Melanie and Wanderer. Meyer’s book has an enormous fan base, and the author had long resisted offers to sell it. She finally made a deal two years ago with producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, who’d done the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road together. They deliberately developed the script outside the studio system, and invited the author to be very hands on in the adaptation. Read More »

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FilmNation Not Alone In Contracting Scarlett Fever

Mike Fleming

The flood of AFM project packages has started (how many of them actually happen is a question for another day), and FilmNation has announced it will handle international sales for the Jonathan Glazer-directed Under the Skin. Scarlett Johansson has been attached to star in the science fiction film scripted by Walter Campbell and Glazer, the latter of whom directed Sexy Beast. She plays an alien on earth, disguised as a mesmerizing woman who uses her voracious sexuality to scour remote highways and desolate scenery to snare human prey. It’s based on a Michel Faber novel. Said FilmNation CEO Glen Basner: “We’re so excited to be working on this arrestingly original movie. How could we pass up the chance to work with a visionary director like Jonathan, especially when combined with the intriguing notion of Scarlett Johansson as a ruthless alien seductress?” Nick Wechsler is producing with James Wilson and Film4′s Tessa Ross is exec producing and the UK Film Council and Scottish Screen are also involved. Read More »

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