Screen Talk: Good call


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The Independent Culture

Actress Abigail Spencer, best known for Mad Men, has set Hollywood atwitter by writing a script named Wrong Number.

She's dialled up a film script good enough to likely get made rather than just admired – and not only that, Spencer's writing has attracted a producer in the shape of fellow front-of-camera star James Franco. The early plans see Spencer starring alongside a cast already boasting Andrew Leeds, Matt Gould, Griffin Matthews, Camille Chen and Eric Roberts. Number is billed by backers as a comedic romance about two people who "meet" on a wrong-number phone call at a pivotal moment in their lives. The story centres on a wife dealing with the loss of her father and the stranger she pursues. They strike up an unlikely friendship, which turns romantic, revealing the often-mixed signals in intimate friendships among men and women. AnnaRose King will direct the movie, which is set to shoot in April in New York.

Smith's new Phase

Kevin Smith, a man who has had the usual hard time getting backing from financiers, studios and independent backers recently, has struck a distribution deal. The film-maker, who held a mock auction for rights to his film Red State at last year's Sundance Film Festival, has sealed a deal with Toronto-based Phase 4. The deal calls for Phase 4 to exhibit and distribute up to 12 films per year in the US and Canada under the "Kevin Smith and SModcast Presents" label. Phase 4 will release four of the films in cinemas annually, all of which will be promoted via a live tour with Smith doing the talking. Smith bought the rights to Red State for $20 following its premiere at the Eccles Theatre and said he would distribute it via his SModcast Pictures.

Ready to Crow

Enemies don't always have to stay enemies for long in Hollywood. No sooner had the Weinstein Co and Relativity Media settled their legal differences over remake rights to The Crow than the production powerhouses were announcing details of the freshly flying plans. F Javier Gutiérrez will direct the film while Jesse Wigutow is to write the script. The original was distributed by the Weinsteins at Miramax in 1994 and grossed $50.6m in the US. It will long remain the stuff of after-dinner conversations over what happened between the two, who were swapping writs when early plans to remake the film together hit the rocks. Especially as the settlement is a private out-of-court settlement. All are friends again in the fight to corral audiences for a remake of the cult gothic-horror classic.

New deal

Jack Selby has become the latest ex-PayPal executive and internet entrepreneur to kick-start his film-making ambitions in Hollywood. Selby has created Incognito Pictures, a production company geared to making movies under $10m, and secured a distribution deal with the Weinstein Co. He follows PayPal's former COO David O Sacks into the shark-infested waters of movie production, with a $50m cash pool and ambitions to make movies in all genres, not just horror. It's a wait and see on whether or not Selby's plans will be buffering too long to produce anything.

Boone times

Josh Boone's directorial debut, Writers, is hoping to seal the acting services of Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly. The duo is in negotiations with the film's backers to star in the film that Boone also wrote. Billed as a drama, the script focuses on the complicated relationships between a successful novelist, his ex-wife, and their college-age daughter and teenage son. The project has heavyweight backing from US company Informant Media, the production banner behind Hysteria, the Victorian-era comedy about the invention of the vibrator, which stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy.