EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures and Amblin will c0-finance Bernstein, a film about iconic composer Leonard Bernstein that Bradley Cooper will star in and direct, and he will write the script with Josh Singer, who shared the Best Original Screenplay Oscar with Tom McCarthy for Spotlight. Cooper, through his Joint Effort banner, will produce with Fred Berner, Amy Durning, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Paramount/Amblin have confirmed and they closed an exclusive rights deal with the Bernstein estate, which gives them exclusive access to his songs and life rights.
This becomes the second film with towering creatives taking on the life of Bernstein and his rise from prodigy to such acclaimed works as West Side Story. Deadline last week revealed The American, a Bernstein film that will star Jake Gyllenhaal with Cary Joji Fukunaga directing a script that Michael Mitnick wrote from the Humphrey Burton biography Leonard Bernstein. That film is one of the hot titles here in the Cannes market, with Sierra/Affinity and Endeavor Content selling. It is fully financed by BRON and international sales are taking place as we speak, and the film has a firm start date in the fall.
The Paramount/Amblin project is a surprise contender. Sources said that Berner and Durning have worked on this one for about a decade to secure the rights with the Bernstein family. At one time, Scorsese was interested in directing before committing to The Irishman. Singer came on board to write the script five years ago. The rights lapsed due to delays on the script, but those producers kept at it and Singer turned in his draft last September. They re-engaged with the estate when Spielberg and Cooper came aboard.
Gyllenhaal and his Nine Stories partner Riva Marker have been developing their project for years, also. They are producing with Fukunaga and BRON’s Aaron Gilbert, and they have also been engaged with the Bernstein estate. Gyllenhaal and Marker just went through a competitive project situation with Stronger, in which he played Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman in an acclaimed performance.
Cooper takes this one after completing his directorial debut on A Star Is Born, in which he stars with Lady Gaga for Warner Bros. He has been nominated for four Oscars, the last coming on American Sniper.
Cooper is repped by CAA.