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Monday, February 22, 2010
It's been a while since our last update on Brian De Palma's latest projects, so we got the word from the man himself. The director says he is still trying to cast The Boston Stranglers, which Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Motion Pictures is producing. Also still in the works is Tabloid, the John Edwards-inspired thriller being produced by the Film Farm. De Palma also confirms that he has indeed been working with Paul Williams on a stage production of Phantom Of The Paradise, with the original film's Ed Pressman producing. One project has fallen by the wayside, however, as De Palma said he is no longer involved with William Boyd's The Blue Afternoon.

Posted by Geoff at 8:48 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 10:01 AM CST
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Sunday, June 7, 2009
In alignment with the Produced By 2009 Conference in Culver City, which began Friday and continues through today, JoBlo has posted the full text of Jimmy O's recent interview with Gale Anne Hurd (see my post from May 19 2009). In one part of the interview, Hurd is asked about her strategy, and says the key is "the best movie you can" make. She then moves into a discussion about marketing:

But at the same time, make sure that when the film is marketed, it is marketed properly, and that the studio is selling the same film that the filmmakers made. Because you can’t do a bait and switch. And that is primarily because of the internet, and the fact that the first fans that see a film, when they are lead to believe they’re seeing one thing and they see it and it is something else, that word gets out. You don’t have the weekend anymore. And also, box office grosses are reported in the mainstream press, immediately available on-line and I do think that the consumer is now aware of what films are underperforming. And I think that there are remarkable films that under perform on a Friday and because that becomes a story, people who otherwise might’ve gone to see a film, an actually remarkably good film, won’t go to see it for whatever reason, its been branded unsuccessful. You know, after one night.

Jimmy O's interview concludes with a slightly extended discussion of The Boston Stranglers:

[Jimmy O] What is next for you that you are really excited about?

[Hurd] The film that Brian De Palma, my ex-husband and I are working on together is THE BOSTON STRANGLERS. Which is the true story of something that we think we all know the true story now, but we don’t. Which is that Albert Desalvo, who was branded the Boston Strangler, there was a movie about him, Tony Curtis played Albert Desalvo… as it turns out, he was never convicted of the crime.

[Jimmy O] How far along?

[Hurd] The film is set up at Overture, and we are in the process of casting and we hope to shoot in the fall.

[Jimmy O] Anyone that you are looking at specifically, that you’d hope for?

[Hurd] Not at the moment. Great ideas though.

On Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times posted edited highlights from a producers panel that Hurd participated in as a lead-in to this weekend's conference.

Posted by Geoff at 11:43 AM CDT
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Producer Gale Anne Hurd is making the rounds thanks to the new Terminator movie, and the JoBlo Movie Network's Arrow In The Head has posted a teaser scoop about The Boston Stranglers from a forthcoming interview with Hurd. Hurd tells the site's Jimmy O that the upcoming Brian De Palma-directed picture has been set up at Overture Films, where Michael Moore is currently working on his sequel to Farenheit 9/11 (other projects being developed by the company, which recently developed and/or distributed Righteous Kill, Last Chance Harvey, and Sunshine Cleaning, include remakes of Let The Right One In and The Crazies). Hurd said they are casting now on The Boston Stranglers, with an aim to shoot in the fall. Here is the full text of what Hurd said, according to Arrow In The Head:

The true story of something that we… we all think we know the true story now, but we don’t. Which is that Albert DeSalvo was branded The Boston Strangler, there was a movie about him with Tony Curtis as DeSalvo. As it turns out he was never convicted of the crime. The film is set up at Overture and we’re in the process of casting. And we hope to shoot in the fall.

Posted by Geoff at 11:15 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 25, 2009 12:07 AM CDT
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Monday, October 27, 2008
Gale Anne Hurd was interviewed by UGO Movie Blog's Jenna Busch a few days ago. Hurd told Busch that her production company, Valhalla Motion Pictures, is gearing up to seek financing and distribution on Brian De Palma's The Boston Stranglers, with intentions to begin filming in 2009. Hurd layed out the film's story line for Busch:

It’s based on Susan Kelly’s book called The Boston Stranglers, because everything that we think we know is wrong. There was a film made right after the events called The Boston Strangler starring Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda. And it posits that Albert DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler, but the truth is, if you scratch beneath the surface, Albert DeSalvo was never charged with the crimes. He was actually incarcerated for another series of assaults, and there was not one shred of evidence linking him to the crimes. So the film is very much (about) how did things go so wrong, that to this day we all think Albert DeSalvo was tried and convicted as the Boston Strangler?

When Busch told Hurd that that sounded "really interesting," Hurd responded by saying, "Yeah. With media, with fear, with the cult of celebrity, so many of the things that are part of our life today, were just beginning in the late sixties."

Mr. Beaks over at Aint It Cool News provides a brief synopsis from an earlier draft of Alan Rosen's screenplay. (Rosen has been with the project since 2001, when Hurd was trying to get it set up for Carl Franklin to direct at Paramount. Now that De Palma has signed on to the project, the screenplay is being revised under his direction.) Mr. Beaks writes:

The massive-in-scope screenplay (a recent draft by Alan Rosen ran over 160 pages) starts small with DeSalvo's first string of crimes (he talked his way into the homes of lonely/neglected women by pretending to be a scout for a modeling agency), but quickly turns into a multi-layered dramatization of the botched police investigation, the intense, often unhelpful media scrutiny (courtesy of an ambitious young female reporter for The Boston Herald), and DeSalvo's jailhouse confession to convicted murderer George Nassar (who got F. Lee Bailey involved). It's kinky, bloody and full of betrayal; in other words, it's ideal material for De Palma. Right now, he's just got to find the narrative throughline.

A user named blackmantis, posting in the "Talk Back" section following Mr. Beaks' AICN post, stated, "Michael Imperioli is DeSalvo's doppelganger! He absolutely must play that part." Several other users agreed that Imperioli would be perfect for the role. Imperioli is best known for his role on HBO's The Sopranos, and can currently be seen carrying an authentically distinct '70s vibe as a cop working for Harvey Keitel on ABC's Life On Mars. No casting has yet been mentioned for The Boston Stranglers.

Posted by Geoff at 4:50 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 27, 2008 7:34 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 9, 2008
Film School Rejects' Cole Abaius spoke recently with Gale Anne Hurd, producer of Brian De Palma's upcoming film, The Boston Stranglers. Hurd told Abaius that the screenplay should be finalized this week, and be ready to start shooting next Spring (2009), with a projected release in 2010. In his post, Abaius states, "So far, there’s no casting in place, and Hurd wouldn’t spill the beans on who they are looking at."

Posted by Geoff at 1:07 AM CDT
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I had a chance to exchange e-mails with Brian De Palma last week regarding the status of some of his recently announced projects. De Palma said that he is waiting for the rewrite on The Boston Stranglers, which could be his next film. This news shows promise that the film will reflect De Palma's sensibilities from the ground up, as the script is being rewritten (presumably by Alan Rosen) under De Palma's direction, and under no apparent rush for a release date.

But what has happened to Print The Legend, De Palma's proposed Iraq-themed follow-up to Redacted? De Palma said he would love to experiment with these new forms of storytelling again, "but we couldn't get it financed. No one wants to make this kind of anti-war [film] now." Print The Legend had been announced by The Film Farm at Cannes last May, along with an untitled political thriller written by De Palma, with the understanding that Print The Legend would be made first. One can guess that if no one wants to finance an anti-war picture right now, investors might be similarly wary about financing a political thriller by the same man who has made his views on the current war in Iraq abundantly clear. While De Palma said that he still has no title for said political thriller, he was able to provide a clue as to what it is about (which he nevertheless presented in the capitalized form of a title): "Sex and Lies on the Champaign Trail."

I also asked De Palma if he thought Capone Rising might get off the ground again (that project was stalled over questions about who owns the rights to the property). De Palma said it's "always possible-- it's a very good script." When I mentioned there had been rumors that Robert De Niro may appear in the film as the Mayor of Chicago, De Palma replied, "Haven't heard that one."


A couple of weeks ago, Ludivine Sagnier, now appearing in Claude Chabrol's A Girl Cut In Two, was interviewed by Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle. Sagnier mentioned a conversation she'd had with De Palma while auditioning for a role in one of his films (which must have been The Black Dahlia). Sagnier recalled:

I auditioned once for a part with Brian De Palma, but he decided he didn't need a European actress for the role. But I remember he said, "Why don't you learn better English, learn a proper accent, and come down to L.A.?" And I was like, "No, I'm sorry, sir. I don't want that." And he was like, "Come on, you lazy cow." And I said, "No, it's not a question of being lazy. I just want to blossom in nice roles, whatever the geography." It's very difficult, the path of young actresses. For example, Scarlett Johansson started out to be a very indie actress, with very edgy roles. But even she - it seems like, ooh, suddenly something has reached her, and that, ooh, she's falling into the trap of too much exhibition, too much money, too much advertisement. And I want to say, "Oh, slow down girl! Slow down! Life is so long! Don't take it as a sprint. Take it as a marathon."

Finally, here are two more little tidbits, courtesy of Rado. Snoop Dog is currently on tour, and the screens behind the stage are showing clips from Scarface edited with Snoop-reenacted versions of them. Rado also notes that the main character in James Cameron's upcoming 3-D extravaganza Avatar is named Jake Sully. Of course, the main character in De Palma's Body Double was named Jake Scully, but there is another odd connection here in the fact that Gale Anne Hurd, who was once married to Cameron and once married to De Palma, has produced projects for both directors (but neither Body Double nor Avatar). Hurd, no longer married to either director, is currently producing The Boston Stranglers for De Palma to direct.

Posted by Geoff at 1:26 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 3:58 PM CDT
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Friday, August 29, 2008
New York Post critic V.A. Musetto blogged yesterday that Brian De Palma was to arrive later that day at the Montreal World Film Festival, where the director will give a master class this weekend (so much for Danielle Cauchard's previous statement that De Palma would be in attendance for the entire festival-- De Palma must have had a slight change of plans). In any case, Musetto states that the press office at the fest "has been deluged with calls" about De Palma, but that if all goes well, the critic will have a chance to sit down with the director.

According to Musetto, Tony Curtis had already left before De Palma arrived, which is a bit of a shame, because De Palma may have been able to correct a bit of misinformation regarding De Palma's upcoming project, The Boston Stranglers. Last month, Curtis was interviewed by Neal Justin at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Justin aksed Curtis whether the films he made in the past could be done today. Curtis replied, "I did a movie called The Boston Strangler. Brian De Palma is going to do a remake. What's he going to do? He's probably going to show the strangling. He's going to show these women being torn apart. He's going to show that in his own poetic way." Well, actually, De Palma is not remaking that film, but he is making a film based on a book by Susan Kelly, whose The Boston Stranglers purports to correct the conclusions depicted in the Curtis film (itself based on a book by Gerold Frank). In fact, Kelly's book discusses the Curtis film (directed by Richard Fleischer), which seems likely to be a part of De Palma's story.

Posted by Geoff at 1:59 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, August 29, 2008 5:48 PM CDT
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Friday, June 13, 2008
I've just discovered a French mediacast from this past February in which Brian De Palma is asked a series of fictional questions from various pop-mythological figures such as Oliver Stone ("What is your definition of a political film?"), Alfred Hitchcock ("Why are you so fascinated with my movies?"), and Scarlett Johansson ("When you come to Paris, what’s your guilty pleasure?"), among others. The most intriguing fictional question comes from Bill Gates: "I’m offering you an unlimited budget and total control. What film will you direct with that?" De Palma, pausing to think for a moment, replies, "Well, thank you, Bill. I appreciate the offer. I’ve always wanted to make a movie of a very famous science fiction book called The Demolished Man. It’s been a dream project of mine since I was in high school. And it will need an unlimited budget in order to do it."

De Palma tried to get his screen adaptation of Alfred Bester‘s The Demolished Man made in 1978, with Frank Yablans as producer, following the pair’s collaboration on The Fury that same year. However, the project proved difficult to get off the ground after the disappointing box office of The Fury.

Throughout the years, various filmmakers have attempted to get a film of The Demolished Man off the ground, but none have yet succeeded. In 1981, Oliver Stone wrote a screenplay based on Bester’s novel that Ted Kotcheff was supposed to direct. More recently, in 2005, Tom Jacobson, who had produced De Palma’s Mission To Mars, tried to produce a version of Bester’s book adapted by Milo Addica, and to be directed by Andrew Dominik. However, that project seems to have fallen through. De Palma has mentioned The Demolished Man every now and then through the years as a project he is still keeping an eye on. 

In the French mediacast, De Palma is "asked" by "Gilles Jacob" to name the best three movies he's ever seen. De Palma expresses difficulty trying to come up with only three, but names, in this order, The Red Shoes, Lawrence Of Arabia, and Vertigo.

Variety today publishes a series of articles in tribute to De Palma’s ex-wife and current collaborator Gale Anne Hurd, pictured here in her office. Via her company, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Hurd is producing De Palma’s upcoming adaptation of Susan Kelly‘s The Boston Stranglers. Hurd tells Variety that the story “touches on the desire for celebrity, using fear as a way to control people and manipulate the media and the police department, and to bring political pressure.”

The man who, according to Kelly’s book, took credit for the Boston Strangler murders and created a media circus in his quest for celebrity status was Albert DeSalvo. According to Boston Magazine’s David Mashburn, three of the big names being mentioned as the potential lead in De Palma’s film are Mark Wahlberg (who was originally cast to play Lee Blanchard in De Palma’s The Black Dahlia, but fell out when that production hit a snag and he moved on to other projects), Benicio Del Toro, and Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise? That would be extremely interesting. In the French mediacast mentioned above, “Tom Cruise” asks De Palma, “Would you work with me again, or is that mission impossible?” De Palma replies, “Well, Tom, it was very exciting to work with you, and we made a terrific movie together, but when you asked me to make the next Mission: Impossible, I said, ‘Isn’t one Mission: Impossible enough?’” These casting tremors are just rumors for now, but Mashburn also supplies one other interesting tidbit: Alan Rosen’s screenplay for The Boston Stranglers currently takes up about three hours worth of screen time.

Posted by Geoff at 1:37 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:54 AM CDT
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Brian De Palma will reteam with producer Gale Anne Hurd to film The Boston Stranglers, according to Jay A. Fernandez at the Hollywood Reporter. The film is an adaptation of a 1996 nonfiction book (updated in 2002) titled, The Boston Stranglers: The Public Conviction of Albert DeSalvo and the True Story of Eleven Shocking Murders, written by Susan Kelly. In the book, Kelly claims to debunk the confessions of Albert DeSalvo, who was convicted of strangling 13 women between 1962 and 1964. According to Kelly's book, the Boston murders were the result of several killers, and DeSalvo was a pathological liar who craved celebrity. One striking detail of the murders was that there was never a sign of forced entry into the victims' homes, most of whom were sexually assaulted before being strangled, often with their own nylon stockings (the killings were also referred to as the silk stocking murders).


In 1968, Richard Fleischer directed a film titled The Boston Strangler, starring Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda, and based on the Gerold Frank book of the same name. Fleischer's film is noted for its use of split screen, a technique De Palma had begun to experiment with around the same time. While Fleischer's film focused on DeSalvo as the true killer, when the film was first shown on television in 1974 (the year after DeSalvo was stabbed to death in prison), a voiceover was tacked on at the end to state that several experts had become convinced that DeSalvo was not the killer. Kelly's book includes chapters about Fleischer's film, which was filmed on location in Boston and Cambridge, creating a media frenzy and a local stir. The film itself became a key part of a trial, detailed in Kelly's book, in which DeSalvo went up against Twentieth Century Fox over the rights to his life story. At one point early in the trial, the judge and the attorneys attend a private screening of the Fleischer film.

The Hollywood Reporter article mentions that "De Palma similarly plumbed real-life-derived atrocities in Casualties of War, Redacted and The Black Dahlia." This film could be interesting as a postmodern pluralized ("Stranglers" instead of "Strangler") revision of Fleischer's picture, which nevertheless takes De Palma back to the decade at the heart of his cinema, the 1960s. The director also must feel at home in reteaming with Hurd. While the two were married, Hurd produced what was surely De Palma's most personal film of the 1990s, Raising Cain (1992), which De Palma wrote and directed. De Palma and Hurd, who also have a daughter together (Lolita De Palma), seem to have remained friends over the past decade and a half, and it will be nice to see them team up again professionally. Hurd will produce through her own Valhalla Motion Pictures (Hulk, Terminator 3, Dick). In a statement quoted at Reuters' Fan Fare blog today, Hurd said that De Palma "has the perfect visual and thematic sensibility" for The Boston Stranglers. Hurd has also produced both Hulk movies, the second of which (The Incredible Hulk) is released June 13th.

Carl Franklin
had previously been attached to direct the Boston Stranglers project, which Hurd has had lined up at Paramount since 2001 (the Hollywood Reporter article does not mention Paramount, or any other distributor attached at this time). Alan Rosen, a TV writer/director/producer, had written the first draft of the adaptation from Kelly's book, and then worked with Franklin on a revised version. In 2002, Sid Quashie was assigned by Paramount to work with Franklin on a new draft. Franklin had still been attached through at least January of 2005, when he mentioned the project during a USA Today chat, indicating that the script was still being reworked. According to the Hollywood Reporter article, Rosen is the screenwriter of choice now that De Palma is aboard the project.

The Hollywood Reporter article gives no indication as to when The Boston Stranglers might go into production, stating simply that De Palma has signed on to helm the project. In April, William Boyd mentioned during a Book Slam Podcast that he hoped De Palma's adaptation of his book The Blue Afternoon would go into production by the end of 2008. Last month, Redacted producers Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss announced at Cannes that they would produce two De Palma scripts, one titled Print The Legend, and an untitled political thriller. The two producers indicated that Print The Legend would go into production first, and it is highly conceivable that this low-budget project may already be flying under the radar. De Palma also continues to be involved with a prequel to The Untouchables, which is still in the casting stages, although Gerard Butler has already signed on for that film. Meanwhile, De Palma's latest film, Redacted, will screen at the Melbourne International Film Festival, which runs from July 25 through August 10.

Posted by Geoff at 10:05 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 10:23 AM CDT
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