All 'Hands' on for Altman project

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Robert Altman, whose "A Prairie Home Companion" was released by Picturehouse, is close to teaming with the distributor again for his next project.

Altman and writer Stephen Harrigan are developing a script inspired by the events depicted in S.R. Bindler's 1997 documentary "Hands on a Hard Body: The Documentary," which recounted a Texas endurance contest that offered a new Nissan Hardbody truck as the prize.

The last person left standing with a hand on the truck got to take it home. Altman has wanted to direct the project for years and now says it will be his next film. He compares it to Sydney Pollack's 1969 film "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" which centered on a marathon dance contest.

Harrigan, whose credits include such telefilms as Hallmark Entertainment's "The Colt" and Channel 4/Lifetime's "Widow on the Hill," is at work on the screenplay, and Altman has begun talking to such actors as Billy Bob Thornton and Hilary Swank, though cast availability when the film is ready to shoot will be a factor.

"He can get almost anybody," one source close to the production said. When the script is finished, it likely is to be funded by HBO International's Charles Schrager and greenlighted by Picturehouse president Bob Berney. Altman hopes to start production in January with a $10 million budget.
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