Production Begins in Los Angeles on HBO Pictures Biographical Drama Starring Stanley Tucci as Winchell

March 5, 1998

Paul Giamatti Also Stars with Christopher Plummer and Glenne Headly

Production has begun in Los Angeles on HBO Pictures' WINCHELL, it was announced today by John Matoian, president, HBO Pictures and HBO NYC Productions. Directed by Paul Mazursky (Academy Award(r) nominee for writing 1989's "Enemies, A Love Story"), the biographical drama stars Stanley Tucci ("Big Night") in the title role; Paul Giamatti ("My Best Friend's Wedding") also stars with Christopher Plummer ("12 Monkeys") and Glenne Headly ("Mr. Holland's Opus").

Rob Fried ("Godzilla") is executive producer, Rich Zinman ("Rudy") is co-executive producer, and Stan Wlodkowski ("Longtime Companion") is producer of this Fried Films production. The script is by Scott Abbott ("Breach of Contract"), based on the book "Walter Winchell: His Life and Times," by Herman Klurfeld, who was Winchell's ghost writer. Gaye Hirsch is the HBO vice president supervising the film.

"Walter Winchell was one of the most influential and controversial newscasters and journalists of the century," said Matoian. "With today's press coming under such close, critical scrutiny, it's interesting to take a look at a man whose pen was indeed mightier than the sword. The formidable combination of Stanley Tucci and Paul Mazursky should make for a fascinating film examining the power of the press."

"Every once in a while, a producer is able to work on a film that you know from the outset to be special," said Fried. "WINCHELL is such a project. Scott Abbott has presented us with a captivating screenplay, Paul Mazursky has been masterful in his realization, and the entire cast, especially Stanley Tucci, has been exceptional. Stanley has designed a fascinating portrayal of the legendary journalist. We are grateful to HBO for helping us to assemble this very special film."

WINCHELL chronicles the gossip columnist's rise from a vaudeville entertainer to one of New York's most powerful media personalities: Editors and publishers fought with him; high-level politicos feared him; mobsters trusted him; federal agents doubted him; President Roosevelt praised him; McCarthy sought him as an ally; and everyone spied for him.

Stanley Tucci comes to the role of Winchell with a career that encompasses work as an actor, director, writer and producer. He performed in all four capacities in the film "Ship of Fools," due for release this year. His acting credits include Woody Allen's recent "Deconstructing Harry," plus "Montana," "The Daytrippers," "Kiss of Death," "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" and "Billy Bathgate." Tucci received widespread critical attention with the feature film "Big Night," which he starred in, scripted and co-directed. Tucci received an Emmy(r) nomination for his performance in the Steven Bochco series "Murder One."

Paul Giamatti, who plays Herman Klurfeld, has been seen in "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "Private Parts."

Christopher Plummer, who plays President Franklin D. Roosevelt, has been seen in such feature films as "12 Monkeys," "Dolores Claiborne," "Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country," "The Man Who Would Be King," "Eyewitness," "Dragnet" and "Wolf."

Glenne Headly, who plays Dallas, has appeared in such feature films as "Mr. Holland's Opus," "2 Days in the Valley," "Mortal Thoughts," "Dick Tracy," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo," as well as the TV movie "Bastard Out of Carolina" and HBO Pictures' "And the Band Played On."

Paul Mazursky received an Oscar(r) nomination for adapted screenplay for "Enemies, A Love Story," which he also directed, produced and appeared in; he won a New York Film Critics Award for directing the film. His has had director, producer, writer and actor credits on such films as "The Pickle," "Scenes from a Mall," "Moon Over Parador," "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "Moscow on the Hudson," "Tempest," "An Unmarried Woman" and "Blume in Love." Mazursky's director, producer and writer credits include "Willie and Phil," "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" and "Harry and Tonto." He directed, wrote and appeared in "Alex in Wonderland" and directed and wrote "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice." Most recently, he directed and appeared in "Faithful" and has appeared in HBO's "Weapons of Mass Distraction," "Touch," "2 Days in the Valley," "Miami Rhapsody," "Love Affair," "Carlito's Way" and "Man Trouble."

Rob Fried is the founder and president of Fried Films; his previous credits include such films as "Rudy," "Only You" and "So I Married an Axe Murderer." He also produced the Oscar(r)-winning 1991 short "Session Man." As president and CEO of Savoy Pictures, Fried was responsible for such films as "A Circle of Friends," "Soul Food" and "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate," as well as the forthcoming "American History X" and "A Simple Plan." Fried has two additional HBO projects upcoming, "Black Cat Run" and "Rose Madder," as well as the motion picture "Godzilla," which he executive produced.

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