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A Charlie Kaufman-Spike Jonze reunion brews

December 16, 2010 | 12:51 pm

EXCLUSIVE: It's perhaps the partnership that has produced some of the most unconventional and creative films of recent years. And now Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze -- who of course collaborated on "Being John Malkovich' and "Adaptation" -- look to get back together as writer and director, respectively.

The pair are pitching a new movie. While the plot is being kept under tight wraps -- it's a pitch, so a script has yet to be written, and Kaufman movies are famously hard to describe in a few sentences anyway -- two people familiar with the project said it has been making the rounds to independent financiers in recent weeks.

If it moves forward, the film would reunite the pair in the roles that vaulted them to fame for the first time since "Adaptation" in 2002. (Kaufman did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.)

Kaufman most recently made his directing debut with the 2008 cult hit "Synecdoche, N.Y." (which Jonze was initially set to direct and wound up producing). Jonze, meanwhile, has been working on non-Kaufman films as the director of the children's fantasy "Where the Wild Things Are" and the producer of the recent gross-out hit "Jackass 3D."

Since "Synecdoche" came out two years ago, Kaufman has been writing a script that he has called  "Frank or Francis," according to several people familiar with it. The film, perceived as commercially tricky but also beloved, is a Hollywood satire in the form of a musical (!) and has an art-imitating-life conceit somewhat in the vein of "Adaptation." (The basic premise: a director embraced for broadly commercial hits resents his success and wants to be considered an auteur and artiste; one imagines it as a bizarre-o world version of Kaufman himself, who hasn't made any broadly commercial movies and has in fact been embraced as an auteur and artiste.)

The project had been set up at Sony but does not appear to be moving forward there at the moment, say two people with knowledge of its progress. Jonze, meanwhile, is looking for his next film. If financiers and studios bite, that could well end up being "Malkovich" redux.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: 'Being John Malkovich.' Credit: USA Films.

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Wow, this has $2 million domestic gross written all over it! Rush it to the theaters! Sorry, Charlie - Marty isn't your agent anymore. There's nobody left to bamboozle the studios for you anymore.

Bamboozle? I am surprised to discover that I wasn't really entertained by those Charlie Kaufman movies I thought I loved.

Apparently I, too, was fooled by some anonymous agent I never met or heard of.

I hope the Academy will soon correct the injustice that agents don't win Oscars for the movies they package. Because the dealmaking is clearly what makes a good film.


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