NYC Pimp Turns Hollywood Tricks

Jan. 30 2008, Published 8:04 a.m. ET

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Jason Itzler of New York magazine’s “The $2,000-an-HourWoman” fame may be serving time on Riker’s Island for running one ofManhattan’s priciest hooker rings, but we hear the future is lookingbright for the self-promoting flesh peddler. Sources say competing West Coast talentagencies CAA and ICM are vying to see who can get his illustrious life story tothe big screen first.

The ICM project is being helmed by JoyLuck Club director Wayne Wang—who says he thinks ofItzler as “sort of the guy who pushed the edge of the American dream inthe new millennium”—and is being produced by newcomers RyanBabenzian and Kevin Krakower (who happens to be thejailed pimp’s cousin). According to Babenzian, a onetime manager atL.A.’s Dolores Robinson firm, the team acquiredItzler’s life rights—for how much, he wouldn’t say—andare currently searching for screenwriters to pen their hoed-up opus.

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“I’d love to see a guy like Leonardo DiCaprioin the lead,” Babenzian said. “For any actor it’s a dreamrole to play. People are going to understand what being bipolar reallymeans.” Wang seems to see Itzler in a slightly different light: “Howabout Jack Black? It’s a crazy idea! Or VinceVaughn?”

Asked if he’s ever met the hero of hisbiopic, Wang said, “No, I have not. In a way I’m kind of veryintrigued on the periphery, reading all these stories about him and hearing allthis stuff. I think I’m going to save meeting him ’til the end so Ican kind of imagine him more.”

Though Itzler—who famously saidhe could turn Paris Hilton into a $250,000-an-hourescort—still has six months left in the joint, he’s cooperating withthe production and even shopping around a book, Babenzian says.

But if onemovie about the chemically imbalanced New York Confidential founder isn’tenough, we hear New York scribe Mark Jacobson has alsobeen in talks with his agency, CAA, to make a movie based on the article hewrote about Itzler’s romance with his prize earner, NataliaMcClennan. (The love affair reportedly stalled when Itzlerdiscovered his moneymaker was a smack addict; McClennan has since been busted onprostitution charges.)

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Wang, who’s been calling theas-yet-unscripted film Rocket Fuel for Winners based on a detail fromJacobson’s story, said, “I think the magazine rights would be greatto have, but I think we’re pretty much focusing on the Jason Itzler storyat this point.” (Apprised that sources had told thatItzler may have already sold his life rights elsewhere prior to the ICM deal, Wangsaid, “Wow, I have not heard that. I wouldn’t put it past him,though. Oh, god.”)

Asked who had approached New York for therights to Jacobson’s story, the magazine’s spokeswoman, SerenaTorrey, said, “Since a deal has not been made yet, all I can tell you isthat interest has been expressed.” ICM rep Amy Pfisterconfirmed that her agency was working on a film about Itzler’s life withWang but would not elaborate. CAA’s flack did not return callsfor comment.



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