'Experience' in wings at Vantage


Paramount Vantage and Michael London's Groundswell Prods. will co-finance and produce the "The Marc Pease Experience" from writer-director Todd Louiso and screenwriter Jacob Koskoff. Jason Schwartzman has signed on to star, with Ben Stiller in negotiations for a co-starring role.

Vantage will distribute the project, which is scheduled to begin production in March in North Carolina.

Schwartzman is set to play Marc Pease, a man 10 years out of high school and still living in the past when he was the star in his high school's musicals. During the course of one day, as Pease's former teacher/mentor Mr. Gribble (Stiller) oversees the opening night of another show, Pease finally exorcises his demons and realizes there's more to life than Broadway artistry.

"The combined comedic talents of the cast, coupled with the wry sense of comedy that Todd is known for, is exactly the kind of film we hope to make a tradition here at Vantage," said Amy Israel, executive vp production and acquisitions.

Schwartzman, who most recently starred in "Marie Antoinette," is in India shooting the Wes Anderson-directed "The Darjeeling Limited." Stiller stars in 20th Century Fox's "Night at the Museum." Both are represented by UTA.

Actor-turned-director Louiso, best known for co-starring roles in such films as "Thank You for Smoking," "High Fidelity" and "Jerry Maguire," as well as for directing "Love Liza," is represented by WMA.

David Rubin ("Igby Goes Down") will produce through his Firefly Pictures alongside Groundswell CEO Michael London and president of production Bruna Papandrea. Veteran casting director Rubin developed the script with Louiso and Koskoff and initially brought it to the attention of Groundswell, who brought it to Vantage.

The film is the first studio co-production for Groundswell. The company is in postproduction on "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," starring Sienna Miller, Peter Saarsgard, Nick Nolte and Jon Foster; "Smart People," starring Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church, which Miramax will release this year; and "The Visitor," a Participant Prods. co-production from writer-director Tom McCarthy.

Vantage's Israel and Geoff Stier, senior vp production and development, will oversee for the studio.