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Morris Chestnut Inks 3-Picture Deal w/ Screen Gems; Will Co-star w/ Regina Hall in ‘Hand that Rocks the Cradle”-Style Thriller

Morris Chestnut Inks 3-Picture Deal w/ Screen Gems; Will Co-star w/ Regina Hall in 'Hand that Rocks the Cradle"-Style Thriller

Morris Chestnut has inked a 3-picture deal with Sony’s Screen Gems, that will see him act in, as well as produce projects for the studio. 

He’s already booked for the upcoming thriller “The Perfect Guy,” which he co-stars in with Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy, and he’s now also landed a starring role in the psychological thriller “When the Bough Breaks,” joining Regina Hall.

To be directed by Jon Cassar, “When the Bough Breaks” (previously titled “The Surrogate”), tells the story of a couple who hire a surrogate to have their baby, but, as you might expect, things don’t go entirely as expected. 

‘The Hand that Rocks the Cradle”-style thriller may or may not be a previous project, which had a very similar premise, announced years ago, with Halle Berry attached to star. I dug into the S&A archives to find a 2009 post on the old S&A site (pre-Indiewire), in which it’s mentioned that Berry was in talks to star in a film called “Surrogate” for 20th Century Fox. At the time, it was announced that the film, also billed as a thriller, would be based on the 2004 book of the same name by Kathryn Mackel, that centers on a couple desperate to have a child, who find themselves in an extremely difficult position when they discover that the surrogate they hired to carry their baby is insane.

Berry was interested in playing the wife who wants to have the child, and Fox was reportedly keen to have her do it. Dutchman, Paul Verhoeven, was attached to direct. A year later, in 2010, we reported that the project was still very much in the works, with Berry attached. Director Verhoeven talked about it in an MTV interview in which he said that the hold-up was due to financing and content approval from the studio. In short, Fox wasn’t necessarily willing to part with the $30 million needed to finance the film, because of how provocative the material is/was, and what Verhoeven had in mind for it. He called it “provocative and sexual,” adding that there was concern from the studio about the issues the film would tackle – contentious issues like abortion, notably.

But that was in 2010. Since then, I haven’t read/heard anything about the project. And I can’t say with any certainty that this new one, with Regina Hall and Morris Chestnut, is the same project initially announced in 2009, now at a different studio, with a new director.

Director Cassar’s resume includes helming episodes of hit TV series like “24,” “Daybreak” (which starred Taye Diggs), “La Femme Nikita,” the most recently-broadcast “24: Live Another Day,” and more. He’s also currently finishing a western titled “Forsaken,” starring Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, and Demi Moore.

Production on “The Surrogate” is set for early winter, with Unique Features’ Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, producing.

Meanwhile, Chestnut’s 3rd project under his 3-picture deal with Screen Gems, will be something called “The Syndicate,” from writer Cliff Dorfman (“Entourage”), which Chestnut is producing. No details on what that one’s about just yet.

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