Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Brian Rosen and Su Armstrong’s Australian film production company Tree is taking root in North America. The producers plan to start shooting 33 Liberty Lane, a comedy starring Emily Watson, Sandra Oh, Melora Hardin and Nia Vardalos, in Winnipeg in February, and they’re developing Doll, a U.S. romantic drama, with Chartoff Productions’ Lynn Hendee. Englishman Peter Hewitt (Garfield, The Maiden Heist) will direct Liberty Lane from a script by Canadian-born Australian resident Stephen Ayres. The plot follows four down-on-their-luck women who turn to phone sex as a way to make a quick buck and enlist the help of a hooker (not yet cast). Sales agent LevelK has negotiated presales worth $700,000 to Canada (Union Pictures), Russia and other territories, Rosen tells Deadline. Tree is co-producing with Phyllis Laing’s Winnipeg-based Buffalo Gal Pictures. Doll is the saga of an up-and-coming female singer who’s losing her hearing but finds a way to keep performing. It’s scripted by Aussie Campbell Graham from a story by Graham and Mark Maclaine. Armstrong showed the script to Hendee, whom she’d known since they worked on the Dolly Parton comedy Straight Talk in 1992 when Armstrong was a production executive with Hollywood Pictures, and Hendee agreed to co-produce. No director is aboard yet. Tree’s Around the Block, an Australian feature which stars Christina Ricci as an American drama teacher who reaches out to a troubled Aboriginal teenager played by The Sapphires’ Hunter Page-Lochard, is in post-production.