EXCLUSIVE: Dylan Sellers and PalmStar Media’s Kevin Frakes are pulling together a dramedy entitled The Starling which is a decided turn for actor Keanu Reeves who is coming off the $125M+ (and climbing) worldwide box office actioner John Wick 2. Reeves is in talks and Isla Fisher is in final negotiations to star in the feature film that will be directed by Dome Karukoski (Tom of Finland). The script, which is just a superb allegory written by Matt Harris, was once on the Black List of best, unproduced scripts.
The logline: A married couple lose a child and the wife goes into a recovery place to help her with overwhelming grief, leaving the husband at home alone. To help aid in her recovery, the husband decides to build a beautiful garden for his wife in their backyard, but as he does he is tormented by an aggressive, black starling. At his wits end with the relentless nature of the bird, he goes to see a veterinarian to find out if there is a humane way to get rid of it. The vet, the husband finds out, used to be a psychiatrist but gave it up to help animals instead. However, the quirky vet begins counseling the husband in a turn that neither of them really expected.
The theme of the story is how love can carry you through grief.
The Finnish director Karukoski is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked both in film and TV and he is currently receiving critical praise in Scandinavia for Tom of Finland. He also directed Heart of a Lion, a film about a Neo-Nazi who falls in love with a woman who turns out to have a biracial child. That film from 2013 put him on the map around Hollywood as a director to watch.
The Starling is being produced by PalmStar’s Frakes and Sellers who both have relationships with Reeves. Frakes has worked with the actor on multiple films including the John Wick series while Sellers has a history with Reeves on Chain Reaction and The Replacements. Also producing is Buddy Patrick of Windy Hill Films (John Wick 2, The Alchemist) and Michael Bederman (Spotlight, Collateral Beauty). An early June start date is being planned.
Fisher’s previous credits include Tom Ford’s gritty Nocturnal Animals, the comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses and Arrested Development.
Sellers is the former president of TWC who oversaw such gems as St. Vincent and Southpaw. He launched his River Edge Films and formed a strategic partnership with the finance/production company PalmStar about two years ago. PalmStar, Sellers and Patrick are all together on The Alchemist.
This is not the first time that PalmStar has tackled this subject matter — it also produced and financed Collateral Beauty (with the aforementioned Bederman) which starred Will Smith as a father dealing with the death of a child. PalmStar also is in the midst of production on Catcher Was a Spy with Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, Jeff Daniels and Guy Pearce.
Reeves, who also has the romantic-thriller Siberia directed by Matthew Ross on his plate, is repped by WME and attorney Melanie Cook. Fisher is repped by UTA, Shanahan Management and attorney Warren Dern. Karukoski is repped by ICM Partners.