Friday, December 29, 2006

Walden Media preps Houdini project

By Nicole Sperling
The Hollywood Reporter

Mark Waters
Walden Media and director Mark Waters are getting into the magic game. The Phil Anschutz-owned production company has attached Waters to develop an adventure film about a 14-year-old who discovers that he is a descendant of the great illusionist Harry Houdini.

Jessica Tuchinsky, Waters' producing partner at Watermark Pictures, will produce along with her husband, Jason Hoffs (The Terminal).

An original idea developed at Walden Media, the project centers on a young boy, who upon hearing the news of his lineage, embarks on a journey to unravel the secrets of Houdini's past, uncovering a legacy the famed magician was trying to protect.

"Houdini has exerted a fascination on people for the last hundred years," said Hoffs, who will be producing with his wife for the first time. "The movie takes place in the present, but our lead character and the audience will learn some of the secrets of what Houdini was really up to."

The production is looking for a screenwriter.

Waters (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls) is shooting The Spiderwick Chronicles for Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures in Montreal. He is attached to direct two projects for Walt Disney Pictures, Bob the Musical and the recently announced Me2 from screenwriter Larry Doyle (HR 10/19).

Tuchinsky and Waters' Watermark Pictures is based at Paramount. Hoffs has a first-look producing deal at DreamWorks.

Waters is represented by CAA.

Executive vp production Alex Schwartz and creative executive Bonnie Solomon will oversee the project for Walden Media. Senior vp business and legal affairs Frank Smith negotiated the deal for Walden. The company's next film, Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies' Charlotte's Web, will bow Dec. 20.

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