December 20, 2000
By Claude Brodesser and Dana Harris
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Just as a deal was solidified for Julie Taymor to helm Miramax's $12 million biopic "Frida Kahlo," producer Francis Ford Coppola's similarly themed film seems to be running into trouble.
Both projects focus on Kahlo's relationship with muralist husband Diego Rivera and their place in high society in Mexico.
Both have attached big Latina stars: Miramax's "Frida Kahlo" project has Salma Hayek toplining, while Coppola's has been negotiating with Jennifer Lopez to star for director Luis Valdez.
But for now, Miramax certainly seems to have the edge. Its production is in advanced discussions both with Antonio Banderas -- he'd play David Siqueiros, a painter and Rivera's rival on the art scene -- and with Geoffrey Rush, who'd play Leon Trotsky. Miramax has also already set Alfred Molina to play Rivera, as well as Ashley Judd as American photographer Tina Modotti. Even Edward Norton is aboard for a cameo as Nelson Rockefeller.
Miramax is in negotiations with several foreign sales companies, including Gaylord Entertainment, to co-finance the picture, which has a budget of $12 million.
MGM and Coppola, on the other hand, are a few million apart on the final budget of their project. Insiders at the studio say that earlier negotiations with Franchise Pictures to enter as a co-financier have since stalled. In any event, time is running out on a viable window for production as Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild strikes loom this spring and summer, and Lopez has committed to topline "Enough" at Columbia Pictures before shooting Coppola's picture.
Hayek, who has been shepherding Miramax's "Frida Kahlo" through her Ventanarosa shingle, has a script by Rodrigo Garcia ("Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her").
Coppola's American Zoetrope banner could not be reached late Tuesday, and a Miramax spokesman declined to comment on either the negotiations with Taymor or with Gaylord Entertainment.