Anthony LaPaglia’s long-cherished dream of filming Arthur Miller’s play hangs in the balance.
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4 Oct 2011 - 10:15 AM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 12:33 AM

October 11 looms as a critical day in Anthony LaPaglia's 14-year quest to produce and star in a movie based on Arthur Miller's celebrated play A View from the Bridge.

That's the day LaPaglia's option on the film rights will expire unless Miller's estate represented by his daughter, actress-director Rebecca Miler, agrees to an extension.

The actor-producer isn't confident he'll get the chance to make the film, telling SBS Film, “I've had 14 years to get the film up. And despite being very close so many times, I was not able to successfully drag it over the line. The feeling is, and I agree, that it's time for someone else to take the reins and give this material the respect it deserves.”

However, Impian Films' founder Stephen Van Mil, who plans to produce the film with LaPaglia, still hopes they can proceed, with Ray Lawrence as the director; Andrew Bovell has written the screenplay, the tale of an unhappily-married Brooklyn longshoreman who falls in love with his niece.

“We've got a huge amount of international interest in that story,” Van Mil told SBS last week. “We're finalising the co-production deal with Anthony's company. Ray Lawrence is committed to the project, Anthony of course is the lead and Vera Farmiga is attached.

“We've got to get an extension of the rights from the Miller family. I'm not sure whether (Rebecca Miller) is looking for a substantial fee or confirmation that there is indeed a team together that has the wherewithal to raise the money and make the film. I expect in the next week I'll be talking to her.”

LaPaglia first secured the rights after starring in the Broadway revival of the play in 1997-98. Barry Levinson was announced as the director in 2005 when the film was planned as a US production, and Robert Connolly later came on board.

Rebecca Miller's agent at ICM, Patrick Herold, declined to comment on the status of the rights.

Whatever the outcome, LaPaglia seems philosophical. “Rebecca Miller and the Miller Estate have been nothing but considerate and patient with my 14-year attempt to bring View to the screen,” he said.

“Despite Mr Van Mil's enthusiastic support for the film it seems unlikely that an extension past October 11 will be granted. Although I would never underestimate Mr Van Mil's tenacity and love of the project. He may very well be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat by October 11. Hope springs eternal.

“I'm actually okay with whatever happens. I put a great deal of love, commitment, sweat and money into this over the 14 year period. I can let it go knowing I did everything in my power to make it happen. But as is often the case in life not all stories have a happy ending.”

In other news at Impian, Van Mil confirms he's closing a deal with Fred Schepisi to direct
The Drowner, a romantic drama based on Robert Drewe's novel which follows a young engineer who travels from England to WA in the 1890s to help build a pipeline from the coast to the gold fields.

The “wish list” cast includes Cate Blanchett, James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Liam Neeson and, just added, Geoffrey Rush as a French doctor.

Van Mil indicated Schepisi is due to meet soon with writer John Collee in New York, where he's shooting a film, to finalise the screenplay.

Roger Donaldson is considering an offer to direct Shallows, a film based on a Tim Winton novel which spans three generations of the same family from the birth of the WA whaling industry in the 1830s to the present day. Actress Emma Booth has expressed interest in the project.

Impian is developing with Martin Brown Films Black Honeymoon, a sexy thriller which will mark Collee's directing debut. They're looking for European co-production partners and one in South Africa.

The latest addition to Impian's slate is Drylands, the saga of an Outback town devastated by drought, based on the Thea Astley novel and co-produced with Anthony Buckley. It will be directed by Bruce Beresford with a cast headed by Sam Neill, Greta Scacchi and, subject to availability, Simon Baker, with a screenplay by Peter Yeldham.

Van Mil is applying for a provisional certificate so the film will qualify for the 40 percent producer rebate and he hopes shooting will get underway in the first half of 2012.