May 18, 2000 12:20am
Betty Thomas to Stay Abreast
by: Michael Fleming
(NEW YORK, NY) -- Betty Thomas is negotiating to direct a film based on the most unusual wagering premise since ``Indecent Proposal.''
Fox Searchlight and Thomas are in talks to start production by June on a comedy based on the true story of Brian Zembic, a professional gambler who took a $100,000 wager to get centerfold-sized breast implants and kept them for a year.
Though it seems unusual for her to be moving from Sandra Bullock in ``28 Days'' to the man with 38Cs, Thomas might be the perfect director for such a quirky story, since she has found hit movie material in Howard Stern's love life in ``Private Parts'' and the bigscreen sendup of the TV series ``The Brady Bunch.''
She sparked to the script last week and hopes to do what Barry Levinson did when he set aside his big-budget projects to direct ``Wag the Dog'' in a down and dirty low-budget manner.
Thomas had expected to next direct New Line's adaptation of the Peter Lefcourt novel ``The Dreyfuss Affair'' about a romance between a shortstop and second baseman. But if talks work out, Thomas and Jenno Topping's Tall Trees Prods. will move right into the Zembic tale, which was developed by producer David Friendly, the Fox-based producer of the upcoming Martin Lawrence comedy ``Big Momma's House.'' Thomas and Topping will join Friendly and his exec David Higgins as producers. Friendly has worked with Thomas before, as he, John Davis and Joseph Singer produced the Thomas-directed hit remake ``Dr. Dolittle.''
The real Zembic is a charming and charismatic professional gambler who will bet on nearly anything for money. That included a $30,000 wager that he would live in a friend's bathroom for 30 days without leaving. Despite the bettor's clever strategy of sending over his burly friends to use the facilities, Zembic would not relent, leaving him flush with $15,000 when his friend settled after 15 days.
That was nothing compared to the bet he accepted to get 38C cup breasts. Getting the breasts was easy, since Zembic beat his plastic surgeon out of the fee in a backgammon bet. Being saddled with them was another matter, though one that proved a pleasant surprise. Zembic expected to be holed up for a year hiding his new assets, but instead found that women liked his endowments and his sex life improved. Zembic won the bet, and hasn't yet gotten his breasts taken out yet.
Friendly and Higgins corralled life rights to Zembic and conscripted novelist Tim Sandlin to build a comedy around the character. The film's far from a documentary, but rather focuses on a prodigious bettor and how the breasts affect his attempt to land a woman way over his head. The guy also gets to experience what it's like to be on the receiving end of the gawking to which well-endowed women are subjected.