Years ago, my wife Briggs and I went out to L.A. on the back of an Off-Broadway play of ours. It was about a journalist and a suffragette poet going up against a presidential aspirant in 1917. We'd been hired to write a fact-based screenplay. While there, we polished a spec script we'd written in New York that we called a 'pacifist actioner'. A Warner Bros.-based director didn't want to change a word and our managers at the time loved it.
So did an A-list star's agent. After she said to use her name to get an offer made, the production arm of our managers' company made a substantial offer. Briggs and I stood to make $1.35 million if it went into production. The day before the offer went over, a Beverly Hills lawyer told me this particular star would never say yes without a studio directly involved. He was proved right.
I mention all that as background to this new action-thriller Chris and Brie would be ideal for, which has a subplot aimed at ushering in a new era in cancer. I lost Briggs after fighting her cancer together through four centres in Manhattan. After moving back to Sydney to get away from memories everywhere, good as well as bad, I did a rewrite of a play of ours, a comedy about Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris's era of hellraising actor. Alan Rickman had read it at one point, to co-star, generously calling it "beautifully constructed and brilliantly written."
A Broadway/West End director is now attached. When the producer of an iconic film franchise liked it (she also produces theatre), a premise for a new actioner with that lead character came to me. Then I thought it could be much more. A petition in Briggs's memory to begin a new era in cancer has been signed by 20 stars such as Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, and Emily Blunt along with 6 eminent professors including last year's Nobel laureate in Medicine. Ken Burns, Meredith Vieira, and Billie Jean King are among other public figures who've signed.
I made the female lead in this new screenplay the equal of the male lead and gave her a hidden agenda aimed at Congress, the same as my petition. She's just a lot less polite about it. Brie could capture her free-spirited determination. The male lead is described as having a "deep moral code that he always sticks to," and Chris's favorite charity is Christopher's Haven, which lends support to families of children with cancer.
That description comes from studio coverage I decided to get from an L.A. script-tracking site after I couldn't get a response from two of Brie and Chris's reps. The site's followed by a lot of people in Hollywood. These are excerpts below. I hope you'll be watching it in a theatre and saying you signed to get Chris and Brie to do it:
"THE 29TH OF NEVER is a riveting thriller with a strong sense of high stakes and suspense. The story's anchored by the likable, charismatic and admirably shrewd hero Morgan Ranes, and he has palpable chemistry with the female lead and his love interest Phyllis Reynolds. Ranes is highly experienced in tracking down and apprehending terrorist cells across the world.
As the story begins, RANES gets an unusual new assignment: beautiful, brilliant scientist and cancer researcher PHYLLIS REYNOLDS has hired him to stop her billionaire inventor father JOHN REYNOLDS from carrying out his own domestic terrorist plot. Reynolds is compellingly complex and layered, especially with his tragic backstory involving the death of his beloved wife Jessie.
He believes that the world needs to be saved from itself and its own self-destructive tendencies.
The script takes a number of intriguing twists and turns as Ranes races to stop Reynolds. The big twist-reveal that Phyllis has her own murderous plan...is effectively surprising and dramatically impactful, as well.
The secret scheming and maneuvering of government agents adds even more intrigue to the story, as does the ongoing investigation by LA police detective Joe De Vos.
The climactic desert showdown between Ranes, Phyllis, Reynolds and the various government operatives is momentous and exciting. [It] ultimately provides a poignant, bittersweet end to this taut, twisty thriller. As a tense, suspenseful action-thriller with high stakes and dynamic action, THE 29TH OF NEVER will find an enthusiastic audience seeking out smart, dynamic crime thrillers.
Especially by casting some well-known talent in the lead roles, the film could expect to make well over $70-80 million." (That's without Brie and Chris together. They also referred to it as a "wild and riveting ride.")