Cannes 2012: 'Rocky' producer to take fight to Rebekah Brooks
Few media figures get liberal pundits' blood boiling more than Rebekah Brooks, the disgraced former News of the World editor who has been criminally charged in the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal.
But for moviedom, there’s a different question: Can she make a good film subject?
Gene Kirkwood, a longtime Hollywood producer who counts "Rocky" and "The Pope of Greenwich Village" among his credits, is betting she can. He's acquired rights to Suzanna Andrews' February 2012 Vanity Fair article about the redheaded wunderkind brought low and aims to turn it into a feature. (You can read the original piece here.)
In an interview at a Cannes hotel Friday afternoon, Kirkwood explained why he thought she'd make a captivating protagonist despite an, er, distinct lack of sympathy.
"It's a 'Great Expectations' story about a person who came from nothing. If Dickens was around today, he'd be writing the screenplay." Kirkwood said, adding. "You don't mess around with the facts; you tell it very straightforwardly and let the drama come out naturally."
The Brooks project, which has not yet brought on or a writer or director, leads the slate of a new company called BiteSize Entertainment that Kirkwood is forming with a tech entrepreneur named Ron Bloom (who currently runs a video-platform outfit known as Melvio).
The idea, he and Bloom said, is to merge the speed and savvy of digital culture with the glitz and talent of Hollywood, all in the service of theatrical features. They laid out how they'd like to do it -- a group of low-budget movies, a production studio being built at the W hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, making content that will help market the film ahead of its release instead of being tacked on to a DVD.
"We want to show the drama behind the drama," Kirkwood said. "If it were 'Rocky,' you'd see us running from the Teamsters, or Sly doing his thing down in Philly."
Bloom added, "People are a lot more interested now in how a movie comes together. We'll give them a lean-forward way to connect to the film before it even comes out."
The pair also disclosed several other new projects: a dark comedy with "Breaking Bad's" Bob Odenkirk and Bryan Cranston, a movie about Noel Coward’s brief stint in a Vegas nightclub and, intriguingly, “Dream Child,” a script by the late Dennis Potter, acquired from his estate, that examines the real-life relationship between Lewis Carroll and the girl who inspired “Alice's Adventures in in Wonderland.”
All of them, they say, can move through development quickly because the company will operate like a digital studio more than a movie one.
Though the short-form world of Web content hasn't merged gracefully yet with big-canvas theatrical storytelling, Kirkwood said he thought the time was right for a change.
"So much of Hollywood development moves so slowly, and people in Hollywood get frustrated by it. All the actors up in the Hollywood Hills -- they want to work and they can't because the studios don't make their movies. We'll give them an outlet. Val Kilmer can come play Mark Twain if he wants."
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Rebekah Brooks leaving a London solicitor's office this week. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images