Estevez goes 'Public'


BERLIN -- Emilio Estevez is filling out his library card for his next movie.

Estevez is prepping "The Public," a social drama set in a public library that he wrote and will direct as his follow-up to "Bobby."

The story is loosely based on a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece written by Chip Ward, a retiring librarian in Salt Lake City, which discussed the epidemic issue of libraries becoming de facto shelters for the homeless and the mentally ill in light of many social program cuts.

Estevez was on the awards circuit with "Bobby," a film that he said brought him "out of the wilderness," when he had a conversation with Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co. distributed that 2006 film with MGM.

"Harvey said, 'You have a voice and use it. And don't follow up 'Bobby' with something frivolous,' " Estevez recalled. "That stayed with me. And when I read this piece last April, I thought this could be it."

Estevez, who wrote and directed "Bobby," did most of his research for that ensemble drama at Los Angeles' historic downtown public library and as such was familiar with it. After reading the article, he went back and saw what he had missed.

"It was every bit as bad as the op-ed piece described it," he said.

The story, set in Los Angeles, takes place during a 48-hour period on the two coldest days in the city, with the library overwhelmed by people seeking shelter. After getting rebuffed by the administration to keep the doors open, one librarian stages an act of civil disobedience. He ends up dealing with the library's new inhabitants, many of them mentally ill.

Estevez wrote through the summer and fall while his reps at the Collective put the deal together.

Producing the movie are Bobby Schwartz and Ross Dinerstein of Eleven Eleven Films as well as Estevez's "Bobby" producer Lisa Niedenthal. Eleven Eleven is financing.

The Collective's Shaun Redick and Michael Green are executive producing.

Estevez is meeting with actors for the 16-character ensemble and eyeing a March 26 start date in Los Angeles.

"I really enjoy shooting in L.A., and I think that in the middle of a strike, to put 200 Angelenos to work is significant," Estevez said.

Estevez is hoping to get permission to shoot part of the film in the downtown library despite a moratorium on shooting indoors. He overcame similar hurdles with "Bobby" when he secured permission to shoot at L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel, which was just months away from the wrecking ball.

Estevez is repped by Endeavor.