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Up-and-comer John Hlavin plans a new heist

June 7, 2010 | 11:05 am

EXCLUSIVE: It's been a rags-to-riches kind of year in Hollywood.

First came the crop of shorts directors, such as Fede Alvarez and Ricardo de Montreuil, catching the attention of the film world's biggest rainmakers. Then relative rookies such as Shawn Christensen ("Abduction") and David Guggenheim ("Safe House" and "Puzzle Palace") sold screenplays and/or pitches to the biggest studios, with the likes of Taylor Lautner signing on to star.

The latest anointed one to join the list is one John Hlavin. A writer whose most well-known credit until recently was the FX show "The Shield," Hlavin broke through in December when he landed on the Black List with a crime drama called "The Gunslinger." At about the same time, he was also hired to write a few high-profile flicks, including the new "Underworld" movie, and also sold a pitch based on the comic book "Alibi" to Summit Entertainment.

Now Hlavin is at it again. Late last week, the writer touched off a bidding war with a new pitch (harder to do than with a spec). The movie, say sources, is a heist film that also puts a romance at the center. More details as they become available, but what we do know is that, as of late Friday, DreamWorks is said to have won the rights, besting Warner Bros. and other interested studios.

Studios continue to want big franchises, but they're increasingly willing to look at up-and-coming talent to write them. That may not be the world's biggest underdog story. But given the current state of Hollywood, it's nice every now and then to see a Christensen, an Alvarez and now, a Hlavin.

--Steven Zeitchik


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