Zellweger Shoe-in for 'Cinderella'
By Michael Fleming
Variety, July 8, 2003
Thesp to see $21 mil for pic, 'Bridget' sequel
Renee Zellweger is set to star with Russell Crowe in the Ron Howard-directed "Cinderella Man," a Miramax and Universal co-production that begins production in spring. Imagine's Brian Grazer is producing.
Zellweger's engaged in a package deal with Universal and Miramax that will pay her $21 million to do both "Cinderella Man" and the sequel to "Bridget Jones's Diary," which begins lensing in October.
On both films, U has domestic and Miramax has foreign territories.
In "Cinderella Man," Crowe will play Jim Braddock, a Depression-era boxer who became a folk hero by winning a brutal 15-round match with heavyweight champion Max Baer in 1935. Zellweger will play his wife.
Akiva Goldsman was brought on to do to a rewrite of a script originated by Cliff Hollingsworth and previously rewritten by Charlie Mitchell. Goldsman came aboard after Howard committed, making it a reunion for "A Beautiful Mind" alums Crowe, Goldsman, Howard and Grazer.
Zellweger has been interested in the role since Crowe first pondered pairing with director Lasse Hallstrom. Since then, the actress turned in a Golden Globe-winning performance for Miramax in "Chicago."
She recently agreed to play Janis Joplin in a biopic for Paramount and Lakeshore and will next be seen starring with Jude Law and Nicole Kidman in the Anthony Minghella-directed adaptation of "Cold Mountain" for Miramax.
"Cinderella Man" will be overseen by U's Scott Stuber and Miramax's Meryl Poster and Bob Osher. CAA and John Carrabino rep Zellweger.
© Copyright 2003, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. © 2003 Variety, Inc.
'Cinderella' slipper fits U, Miramax
By MICHAEL FLEMING
Variety, Feb. 3 - 6, 2003
'Beautiful' team to tell tale of Depression-era fighter
Russell Crowe will star for director Ron Howard in "Cinderella Man," a Universal and Miramax co-production set for a mid-November start date.
Imagine's Brian Grazer will produce and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman will come aboard for a rewrite.
The trio of Howard, Grazer and Goldsman won Oscars for "A Beautiful Mind" and Crowe was a nominee.
Crowe will play Jim Braddock, a Depression-era fighter who became a folk hero, rising through the ranks to defeat heavyweight champ Max Baer in a 15-round slugfest in 1935.
The script was originated by Cliff Hollingsworth and rewritten by Charlie Mitchell. It was originally set up at Universal by Penny Marshall, who'll be involved in a producingcapacity. Ben Affleck was attached to star for director Billy Bob Thornton.
That package was KO'd and Lasse Hallstrom signed to do the film with Crowe, only to ankle when the picture was delayed so Crowe first could star for Peter Weir in Fox's "Master and Commander." Fox brought on U and Miramax as financing partners as part of that exchange.
Meanwhile, Crowe and Howard were looking for a film to do together after "A Beautiful Mind," and the director liked Braddock's story.
Miramax will distribute "Cinderella Man" overseas through Buena Vista Intl., which teamed with Miramax to put up half of the budget. Universal is paying for the other half. U production prexy Scott Stuber will supervise production with Miramax production co-prexys Meryl Poster and Bob Osher.
Howard and Grazer are currently prepping the Revolution-based Western "The Missing" with Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett, with shooting to begin in New Mexico in March. He'll then segue immediately to the boxing pic, and perhaps follow with the Universal project "Downtown," a reteam with "Apollo 13" star Tom Hanks. "American Beauty" scribe Alan Ball originated that drama, with Scott Frank rewriting the script for Playtone.
Crowe accomplishes his desire to squeeze in a film before getting a rematch with his "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott on "Tripoli," the Fox period drama that had its start date postponed for a year and now begins production in early 2004. Crowe will follow by making his directorial debut on the Intermedia-based WWII film "The Long Green Shore," based on the novel by John Hepworth. Crowe will star in the film and produce with Mark Johnson. The producers have a draft by Michael Petroni and expect to start work sometime next year.
Miramax on Paper Trail
February 7, 2002
"The Shipping News" director Lasse Hallstrom is committing to direct a Miramax adaptation of the David Liss novel "A Conspiracy of Paper" this fall.
That means he will drop out of "Cinderella Man," the Universal/Miramax drama about Depression-era heavyweight boxing champ Jim Braddock that will star Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger.
"A Conspiracy of Paper" will reunite Hallstrom with Oscar-nominated "Chocolat" scribe Robert Nelson Jacobs, who adapted the novel.
Hallstrom will also be joined on the project by his producing partner Leslie Holleran. "Conspiracy" is a thriller set in London in the early 18th century, framed around the inception of the stock exchange.
The novel was originally set up at Miramax with the hopes that Hallstrom would helm it, but its progress toward production accelerated when Crowe committed to star for "Witness" director Peter Weir in "Far Side of the World," the adaptation of the John O'Brian novel that had been formerly known as "Master and Commander."
That $135 million film is an epic that will star Crowe as a British naval commander who leads a ship and its crew against heavily armed vessels. It will begin filming this summer, and essentially pushed back "Cinderella Man" about 14 months. That has KO'd Hallstrom from its helm and led ICM to make the "Conspiracy" deal.
Lasse Hallstrom will direct the boxing biopic "The Cinderella Man," for Universal and Miramax.
Russell Crowe has been offered the lead role as real-life heavyweight boxing champ Jim Braddock.
Braddock captured the imagination of the public and became known as the Cinderella Man when he rose from obscurity to defeat heavyweight champ Max Baer in a grueling 15-round battle in 1935.
Universal has been developing the project for a number of years.
Script is written by Cliff Hollingsworth and Charlie Mitchell. Billy Bob Thornton was attached to direct at one point, and it was rumored that Ben Affleck would play Braddock.
"Cinderella" is certain to gain considerable momentum if Crowe comes onboard.
Crowe is coming off a lauded role for Universal as mathematician John Nash in "A Beautiful Mind," an Imagine Entertainment co-production directed by Ron Howard.
Universal confirmed Lasse Halstrom will direct "Cinderella," but said it was premature to confirm any of the cast. Miramax declined comment.
Hallstrom is repped by UTA. WMA, which reps Crowe, said he's not committed to doing any new roles.
Crowe is currently planning to make his debut as a screenwriter, director and producer with the Intermedia-backed WWII pic "The Long Green Shore."
Universal and Miramax have a 50/50 single-pot co-production deal on "Cinderella." Universal holds domestic rights to the pic. Miramax will distribute internationally.
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