EXCLUSIVE: David Mamet’s acerbic 1988 stage play about Hollywood, Speed-The-Plow, is headed for the big screen. Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films, Winkler Films & The Fyzz Facility have teamed to produce a film that Mamet himself will adapt based on his Tony-nominated play. There are three strong roles, two male and one female, that ought to make for an interesting casting process.
In the play, newly appointed studio chief Bobby Gould is under pressure to deliver a hit. His longtime colleague Charlie Fox gifts him with a tip that will enrich Fox and enable the studio chief to land a superstar who always works for a rival studio. But as the men discuss, they involve an attractive temp secretary who becomes the subject of a bet between them over who can bed her. Turns out she has her own angle to rise up the Hollywood ladder, and manipulates both Hollywood vets. The play was a Broadway hit (its original cast starred Joe Mantegna, Ron Silver and Madonna), and most recently had a successful run on London’s West End.
A Broadway revival got famously derailed when Entourage star Jeremy Piven withdrew with a claim he was exhibiting high levels of mercury from eating too much sushi. Ever the wordsmith you don’t want to get on the wrong side of, Mamet told me at that time that “I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury. So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.” Piven was replaced by Norbert Leo Butz and William H. Macy, who stepped up to fill the void. Others who’ve headlined the play include Kevin Spacey, Jeff Goldblum, Alfred Molina, Lindsay Lohan, Alicia Silverstone and Elizabeth Moss.
EFOF CEOs and co-founders Randall Emmett and George Furla will produce with Irwin Winkler and The Fyzz Facility’s Wayne Marc Godfrey. This deal comes after Winkler collaborated with Emmett and Furla on the Martin Scorsese-directed adaptation of the Shusako Endo novel Silence, which is shooting in Taiwan with Liam Neeson starring with Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver. EFOF will fully fund the screen version of Speed-The-Plow, which tapped a vein for the playwright. He then wrote the hit film Wag The Dog and State And Main, also about the film business. As a screenwriter, Mamet’s credits include The Verdict, The Untouchables, Hannibal, Hoffa and Glengarry Glen Ross, among others. Exec producing are Robert Halmi Jr and Jim Reeve of Great Point Media and Robert Jones.
Said Winkler: “I am delighted to be working with David Mamet on his insightful exploration of the characters he created in his play which is a classic expose of ambition in Hollywood. Mamet is a master at presenting timeless moral quandaries and audiences can look forward to a unique examination of the cost of doing business — both in movies and in life.”
Said Emmett: “Mamet’s play is iconic and as relevant today as it was when it first hit Broadway. We are excited to be able to work with Mamet and Winkler and bring this film to the cinema.”
Mamet is represented by ICM Partners and Abrams Artists Agency.