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Butler's Script Sale of the Week...

It seems that the studios have picked up in the new year just where they left off. This week saw the purchase of more WWII projects (LIEUTENANT RAMSEY'S WAR,WE DIE ALONE, THE FORGER), fantasy trilogies (ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR), and even a fantasy/WWII hybrid (THE ARGONAUTS). Although they sound like the types of projects that could end up going horribly wrong, I have to admit I'm curious about Joel Silver's haunted website thriller DEATHWATCH and the teen star mockumentary THE JORDEYS that Scott Rudin picked up in turnaround from Warner Bros.

My pick of the week is Working Title Films' acquisition of Neil LaBute's off broadway play, THE SHAPE OF THINGS.

LaBute is the playwright turned filmmaker who received critical praise for his debut film, the dark comedy drama IN THE COMPANY OF MEN (1997). He followed that up with the nihilistic YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS (1998), the comedy NURSE BETTY (2000), and last year's POSSESSION (2001).

LaBute is also on board to direct his own adaptation. It will be the first of his own material that he's directed since YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS (not counting the TV production of his BASH [2000]).

I loved IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, but I wasn't a huge fan of YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS. Regardless, LaBute has established himself as an uncompromising filmmaker with the balls to take on subjects that expose the underbelly of the human condition. THE SHAPE OF THINGS, the story of a man who is used as raw material for an art student's project should be no different.

The cast for THE SHAPE OF THINGS is also shaping up. The leads look to go to Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz. Both are talented actors who thus far really haven't had the chance to sink their teeth into juicy material. Rudd has been around for a while, usually playing the nice guy second fiddle in films like CLUELESS and THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION, although he did get a chance to shine in Labute's BASH. Likewise, Weisz's most high profile work to date has been THE MUMMY movies.

They should get the chance to strut their stuff with LaBute. Like all of LaBute's work, it probably won't be pretty, but it'll definitely be challenging and thought provoking - two qualities that Hollywood seems to have in short supply these days.

-- Edward Butler

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