November 08, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

With ”8 Mile” poised to open on top of the box office chart this weekend, Universal is already rewarding the man behind the project. No, not Eminem, or director Curtis Hanson. According to the Hollywood Reporter, screenwriter Scott Silver has signed on to do two more movies with the studio and ”8 Mile” producer Brian Grazer. One of those is a movie about another Midwestern white boy who became famous by outraging America, only to be ultimately embraced by the culture and deemed relatively harmless. Namely, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

Universal and Grazer’s company, Imagine, bought the rights to the robe-clad publisher’s life three years ago, and Silver has already met with his subject several times, according to the Reporter. Must be a far cry from the research Silver did for his first screenplay; he wrote and directed the 1996 indie movie ”johns,” about homeless Hollywood male street hustlers, starring David Arquette and Lukas Haas.

The other new project in Silver’s Universal-Imagine deal has yet to be determined. That Universal and Imagine would sign him to a two-picture deal, before ”8 Mile” even opens, shows a lot of confidence in a writer previously best known for directing and co-writing the flop remake of ”The Mod Squad.” Silver acknowledges as much, telling the Reporter: ”Before I worked at Imagine and Universal, my career wasn’t in the greatest shape. No one was interested in working with me, and projects weren’t coming my way. Universal and Imagine hired me for the Eminem movie and gave me another chance. It’s been the best working experience of my life.”

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