Plus "Extreme Days" and news from Hollywood

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
September 14, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

HORSE SENSE The no-brainer director for Your Word Against Mine, the Scrabble movie we told you about last week, is Gary Ross (Pleasantville), a guy known for his cutthroat Scrabble competitions. So we gave him a call to gauge his interest, but it turns out Ross is betting on a whole different breed of movie: He’s optioned Laura Hillenbrand‘s best-seller, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, about the ’30s thoroughbred champion who, Ross tells us proudly, snagged more headlines in one year than FDR. Ross, who hopes to begin filming early next year, assures us he’s not handicapping himself by directing a beastly star: ”I know more about horse racing than I care to admit,” he says. ”Instead of having a bar mitzvah on my 13th birthday, I went to the track.”

EXTREME MEASURES Now for a director who isn’t horsing around: First-time filmmaker Eric Hannah, 33, was having a ridiculously easy time when he set out to make Extreme Days, a movie about four extreme-sporting, road-tripping college buddies. Thanks to Hannah’s experience directing sports videos, Providence Entertainment offered to distribute the film (before the script was even written), and EMI agreed to give him 30 songs for the soundtrack. ”It was nothing short of miraculous,” says Hannah, who raised more than $1 million in independent financing. ”On set, we wore T-shirts that said, ‘faith mode.”’ But this summer, when Providence was unable to get trailer placement, let alone theater commitments, more than faith was required. Hannah decided to film a mockumentary about a director struggling for a break, and then sent the video directly to theater exhibitors. Soon, trailers were running, and, as of this week, more than 350 theaters have agreed to start showing Extreme Days on Sept. 28. Hannah’s response to the exhibitors’ enthusiasm is a most un-Hollywood humility: ”By no right or standard should I be here,” he says. ”It’s a privilege and an honor.”

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