Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Roger Towne hired
to pen ‘Five-0’ script

The producer hopes to begin
filming here next spring

By Tim Ryan

Roger Townie, who wrote the script for "The Natural," starring Robert Redford, and the original writer of the Al Pacino-Colin Farrell-starrer "The Farm" by Disney has been hired to write the latest film version of the long running CBS series "Hawaii Five-0."

Towne, the brother of Robert Towne, who wrote "Chinatown," is working on the second version of the big-budget action script because there were some "political elements" in the original that the producer felt needed changing because of the terrorist attacks against the United States.

Towne was hired by producer George Litto, who expects the script to be completed by the end of the year, with filming "hopefully" beginning in spring 2002 in Hawaii.

The idea for a "Hawaii Five-0" film has floated around for years but most seriously since 1999.

"When people make movies quickly they're not very good," said Litto. "When you try to make a franchise, you do the first (movie) good and it starts the franchise off properly."

Litto hopes the feature will become a franchise like the James Bond films. The producer originally packaged the "Five-0" TV series in 1967 with his client and "Five-O'" creator Leonard Freeman. They had also teamed up for "Route 66," "Mr. Novak" and "Hang 'em High."

Litto declined talking about the "Five-0" plot to prevent copy scripts from circulating. The producer said "everybody has an idea" who should portray the no-nonsense cop Steve McGarrett, played in the TV show by Jack Lord.

"I don't want to say who I want but (this actor) knows it and maybe when he likes the script he'll say yes," Litto said.

In earlier interviews, Litto has said he could see the McGarrett role being played by Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas or Harrison Ford.

Litto also wouldn't discuss budget, though in earlier interviews he said the film would cost $75 million to $100 million. The "Five-O" theme, by Morton Stevens, would be incorporated in the feature, just as Lalo Schifrin's "Mission: Impossible" theme was used in that pic.

Litto also owns the film rights to another Towne script called "Dream racer" about NASCAR racing.

"Hawaii Five-0," the longest-running police show in the history of television -- on CBS from 1968 to 1980 -- was the subject of a rights dispute between the network and creator Leonard Freeman's estate. But producer Litto, Freeman's agent, and Freeman's widow, Rose Freeman, prevailed.

The as-yet-unnamed "5-0" film will be produced by Freeman and Litto's company: L/F Prods., LLC. Rose Freeman will serve as consultant on the film.

Three drafts of the "Hawaii Five-0" movie script had been written.

Litto has a long history as a highly successful film producer, talent agent and film executive in the motion picture industry, which began at the William Morris Agency in 1954. His production credits include "Blow Out" with John Travolta and "Dressed to Kill" with Michael Caine.

CBS filmed a "Hawaii Five-0" pilot on Oahu in 1997 starring Russell Wong and Gary Busey but the episode was never broadcast.

After Litto formed his own literary agency in the 1960s to represent screenwriters, producers, and directors he brought together, or "packaged," the creative elements for many successful films, including "Planet of the Apes," "Nashville," "M*A*S*H," "Midnight Cowboy," "Tell Them Willy Boy is Here," starring Robert Redford," "McCabe and Mrs. Miller," starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, and "Papillon," starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.

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