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Ben Stiller & Brett Ratner To Start filming ‘Tower Heist’

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Ben Stiller & Brett Ratner To Start filming ‘Tower Heist’

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In November, Brett Ratner will film Tower Heist, starring Ben Stiller, in New York. According to Deadline, Stiller, who took over for Eddie Murphy in February when the picture was renamed “Trump Heist”, will star as an “overworked manager of a luxury building who, along with other staff, lost their pensions to a Bernie Madoff-like Wall Street crook. It so happens that the fraudster is being held under house arrest in the luxury penthouse apartment upstairs, and the manager and four cohorts figure a heist will make them whole.”

The picture, which has been kicking about Hollywood for a few years and was originally envisioned as an African-American ensemble comedy, has been turned into a working-stiffs-from-New-Yawk narrative, as first reported in February.

Ted Griffin (“Ocean’s Eleven,” “Matchstick Men”) wrote the script, which was revised by veteran Brett Ratner colleague Jeff Nathanson (“Rush Hour 2,” “Rush Hour 3”), with Noah Baumbach contributing especially to Stiller’s role.

Thieves seized a $50 million van Gogh masterpiece from a Cairo museum on Saturday, taking advantage of low security and removing the painting from its frame with a box cutter. A good heist in Hollywood is seldom that simple to plan and execute.

Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment is the film’s producer, while Kim Roth is the executive producer. Adam Cooper & Bill Collage, Russell Gewirtz, Rawson Thurber, Ted Griffin, Leslie Dixon, Noah Baumbach, and Jeff Nathanson are among the masterminds behind this heist.

Ratner is now ready to produce another film. Rush Hour 3 (2007), his most recent full-length feature picture, was a critical flop that barely broke even in the United States. He’s directed a lot of television episodes, music videos, and a scene in the forgettable New York, I Love You since then.

Despite not having directed a feature picture, Ratner has talked about doing it endlessly, to the point that he now has sixteen projects in the works (including a Youngblood adaptation, a Hugh Hefner biographical, and the long-awaited Beverly Hills Cop IV sequel).

“It has become the quintessential New York heist movie, where a bunch of blue collar employees in a tower building pull off the ultimate heist,” says Ratner, who is quick to remind anybody who will listen that Griffin initially wrote “Ocean’s Eleven” for him to direct. “I didn’t get to do that movie, I did Rush Hour instead, but I went back to Ted to do a rewrite, and he wanted to start over. His pitch was so good that I took it to Brian, who said, ‘let’s get it right.’ I brought the script to Ben on the Little Fockers set, and said this is perfect for you. He was looking at other projects like Mr. Popper’s Penguins (which went to Jim Carrey), I asked Noah Baumbach to do some specific character work for Ben. Then my Rush Hour guy Jeff Nathanson brought it home. The major difference from the Ocean’s film is those guys were expert thieves. These are real guys whose talent is they know the inner workings of the building and the people in it. It took a long time for this to come together, but it was totally worth the wait. This has a lot of heart to go along with the humor.”

He was especially excited to create one with Grazer, whom he had met as a film student. “When I graduated, Brian said, I want you to be my assistant,” Ratner remembered. “I’m going to teach you everything about the movie business and you’ll someday be the biggest producer in Hollywood, and I’ll pay you $21,000 a year. I said, no disrespect, but I’m a film director. He said, I’m going to offer you $23,000 and I said, I want to be a director like your partner, Ron Howard. I think he got to $27,000 before he finally said, ‘Ok, good luck in the future.’”

Ratner stated he plans to follow up Tower Heist with Playboy, an Imagine/Universal picture on Hugh Hefner, the creator of Playboy Magazine.

Rewrites and development hell notwithstanding, Tower Heist, with its comedic slant, appears to be perfectly up Ratner’s alley.

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