At press time, Hollywood was preparing for potential strikes by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists that would shut down feature-film and TV production after June 30. The unions are asking for better financial terms for their 100,000-plus members; both sides have agreed to an April 2 deadline to evaluate the situation. The last time Hollywood experienced a SAG walkout was in 1980 — it lasted two and a half months, reportedly costing the industry up to $50 million a week — and executives are worried. ”It would be good for our clients, but overall it would really hurt the business,” says one top agent. Studio execs and producers have reacted to the threat by accelerating production schedules.
The paper chase
Steven Spielberg is looking to possibly direct The Notebook, an adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling novel, to be produced by Mark Johnson (Rain Man). Set in the South, the story follows an old man who — in a desperate effort to reach his Alzheimer’s-stricken love — tries to jog her memory by reading from a notebook that recounts their life together.
It may have a dumb title, but one movie could still draw an Oscar-winning actor for its lead role. Disney’s Bicentennial Man has attracted Robin Williams, but sources say Tom Hanks has not been ruled out to star in this story (from Isaac Asimov) of a domestic robot that longs to become human.
In a change of pace, director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor), was dotting the i’s on a deal to helm United Artists’ Dragonfly, a drama about a doctor’s spiritual awakening after his late wife tries to contact him through patients’ near-death experiences.
At Universal, clashes between chair Casey Silver and president Marc Platt have everyone on the lot wondering about the outcome.