Production Set to Begin on Warner Bros.' Wild Wild West, Starring Will Smith,

February 13, 1998

Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh; Barry Sonnenfeld to Direct; Jon Peters and Sonnenfeld to Produce Principal photography is scheduled to begin on April 22 on Warner Bros.' Western comedic adventure-fantasy, "Wild Wild West," starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh under the direction of Barry Sonnenfeld.

The announcement was made Friday by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Bill Gerber, presidents of worldwide theatrical production for Warner Bros., which will distribute the picture worldwide.

Jon Peters and Barry Sonnenfeld will produce the film, which has a screenplay by Jeffrey Price & Peter Seaman, inspired by the hit television series of the 1960s. The executive producers are Bill Todman Jr., Joel Simon, Kim LeMasters, Tracy Glaser and Barry Josephson, and the co-producer is Graham Place.

Special governmental agent James West (Smith), long on charm and wits, and special government agent Artemus Gordon (Kline), a master of disguises, are each sent to track down the brilliant and diabolical Dr. Arliss Loveless (Branagh). Loveless is plotting to assassinate President Ulysses S. Grant and take over the United States with the aid of his monstrously huge, walking weapon-transport vehicle called The Tarantula.

West and Gordon begin as competitors but soon pool their talents to become a wily team of operatives who trust each other ... most of the time. Romance, humor, fantastic weapons and devices, and hair-raising confrontations and escapes bring this big-screen version of the warmly remembered series into the 1990s with a bang.

Will Smith has starred in two of the biggest films of recent years, 1996's "Independence Day" and 1997's "Men in Black." A top-ranked recording artist, television series star and motion picture star, Smith's film credits include "Bad Boys," "Six Degrees of Separation," "Made in America" and "Where the Day Takes You."

Smith starred for six seasons on the hit TV series "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and began his recording career in high school as half of the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Their initial singles, "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble" and "Parents Just Don't Understand," became instant smash hits and led to several platinum and multiplatinum albums, as well as two Grammy Awards and three American Music Awards.

Smith recently released his first solo album, "Big Willie Style," and also recorded the hit title song for the "Men in Black" soundtrack.

Academy Award winner Kevin Kline, who starred in last fall's sleeper hit "In & Out" and in the critically acclaimed "The Ice Storm," has earned equal distinction in film and theater. In addition to winning the 1988 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in "A Fish Called Wanda," Kline was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for his roles in "Sophie's Choice," "Dave" and "In & Out."

In addition, Kline has received Tony Awards and two Drama Desk Awards for his stage performances in "On the Twentieth Century" and "The Pirates of Penzance."

A graduate of the Juilliard School of Drama and a founding member of John Houseman's The Acting Company, Kline made his Broadway debut in Hal Prince's "On the Twentieth Century," followed by a starring role in Joseph Papp's production of "The Pirates of Penzance."

Kline made his film debut in "Sophie's Choice" and then began a long creative relationship with writer/director Lawrence Kasdan with "The Big Chill," followed by "Silverado," "I Love You to Death," "L.A. Story" and "French Kiss." In addition to the aforementioned titles, Kline's film credits include "Violets Are Blue," "Cry Freedom," "Princess Caraboo" and "Fierce Creatures." He has also lent his voice talents to the animated features "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and the upcoming "El Dorado."

Kline's additional stage credits include Shaw's "Arms and the Man" at the Circle in the Square, the title role in "Hamlet" at New York's Public Theatre (which he also produced and which was honored with five Drama Desk nominations, including two for Kline as director and actor), and his recently acclaimed performance at Lincoln Center Theatre in Chekov's "Ivanov." Kline has received the Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre and served as associate producer for the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Kenneth Branagh has made a significant impact in theater and in motion pictures as an actor, director and producer, appearing most recently onscreen in Robert Altman's "The Gingerbread Man" and currently completing the starring role in Woody Allen's upcoming project.

Branagh studied at England's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and made his professional stage debut in the hit "Another Country," followed by several other plays. He then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he performed in "Love's Labors Lost," "Hamlet" and "Henry V" before leaving to form his own successful theater company.

Among Branagh's other accomplishments on stage were a starring role in the sold-out British nationwide tour and London run of "Hamlet," and performances in Los Angeles in "King Lear" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." In 1993 Branagh received BAFTA's Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema.

After making his film debut in 1987 in "High Season," Branagh appeared in "A Month in the Country," and then directed, adapted and starred in the critically acclaimed "Henry V," for which he received BAFTA and National Board of Review Awards for Best Director. He then directed and starred in "Dead Again," produced, directed and starred in "Peter's Friends," and appeared in "Swing Kids."

Branagh starred, directed and adapted Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing"; starred opposite Robert De Niro, directed and co-produced "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein"; directed and wrote the screenplay for "In the Bleak Midwinter"; narrated "Anne Frank Remembered"; starred opposite Laurence Fishburne in "Othello"; and produced, directed, adapted and starred in "Hamlet."

Branagh received an Academy Award nomination in 1992 for Best Live Action Short Film for "Swan Song"; for his work on "Henry V," Branagh received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and Best Director, as well as the European Film Awards' Felix Award for Best Direction, Best Actor and Best New Film.

For his work on "Hamlet," Branagh received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; for "Othello," he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award as Best Supporting Actor.

Branagh's recent acting credits include 1996's "Looking for Richard," 1997's "The Proposition" and the upcoming "The Theory of Flight" and "Alien Love Triangle," the latter directed by Danny Boyle.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld began his career as a cinematographer, forming a collaboration with the Coen brothers on their first feature film, "Blood Simple," and continuing with "Raising Arizona" and "Miller's Crossing." His other credits as a director of photography in film include "Throw Momma From the Train," "Three O'Clock High," "Big," "When Harry Met Sally..." and "Misery."

Sonnenfeld received an Emmy Award in 1985 for his camera work on the TV special "Out of Step" and received a Clio Award for directing the Nike commercial "Dog" and a series of commercials for Isuzu and Reebok.

In 1991 Sonnenfeld made his directing debut with the hit comedy "The Addams Family." He followed it with "For Love or Money," the successful sequel "Addams Family Values" (in which he played a small role), the critical and popular triumph "Get Shorty" (which he also executive-produced and appeared in as a doorman) and the blockbuster 1997 summer hit "Men in Black," which starred Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.

Academy Award winner Jon Peters most recently produced "Rosewood," written and directed by John Singleton and starring Jon Voight and Ving Rhames, and "My Fellow Americans," starring Jack Lemmon, James Garner, Dan Aykroyd and Lauren Bacall.

Peters has amassed an impressive list of motion picture triumphs as a producer, including Singleton's debut film "Boyz N the Hood," "Batman" and "Rain Man," which earned the Academy Award for Best Picture.

During his tenure as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Peters initiated such blockbusters as "A Few Good Men," "The Prince of Tides," "Hook," "Bugsy," "Bram Stoker's Dracula," "My Girl" and "A League of Their Own."

Peters' other credits include "Batman Returns," "The Color Purple," "Gorillas in the Mist," "The Witches of Eastwick," "A Star Is Born," "Eyes of Laura Mars," "Caddyshack," "Endless Love," "An American Werewolf in London," "Missing" and "Money Train."

In 1991, Peters left his position at Sony to form Peters Entertainment. Under its exclusive partnership with Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures, Peters Entertainment is developing a slate of more than 80 films.

Joel Simon has been, since 1995, president of motion pictures for Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment. From 1987 to 1995, he was a partner in Todman-Simon Productions, where he and his partner Bill Todman Jr. produced "Married to the Mob," "Hard to Kill" and "Steel."

In addition to Simon's film work, Todman-Simon had an overall producing deal with Lorimar and Warner Bros. TV that yielded five network pilots, one CBS half-hour series and one NBC movie of the week.

Bill Todman Jr. has been, since 1995, head of production for Morgan Creek Productions, where he has overseen such films as "Diabolique," "Two If By Sea," "Bad Moon," "Wild America," "Major League: Back to the Minors," "Wrongfully Accused" and the animated "The King and I."

Between 1987 and 1995, he was partnered with Joel Simon in Todman-Simon Productions, where his film credits included "Married to the Mob" and "Hard to Kill," as well as five network pilots, one CBS half-hour series and one NBC movie of the week.

Kim LeMasters began his career at ABC-TV in prime-time development, where he was involved in the creation of such series as "Starsky and Hutch," "Harry O" and "Kung Fu." He then moved to Warner Bros. Television, where he helped develop such series as "Alice" and "Wonder Woman."

Joining CBS-TV in 1976, LeMasters was involved in the creation of "Dallas," "Knots Landing," "The Incredible Hulk" and "The Dukes of Hazzard," among other shows.

After a brief stint as executive vice president, theatricals, at The Walt Disney Co., LeMasters returned to CBS as vice president, miniseries; rising to vice president, programming; and the president, entertainment at CBS. Under his management, CBS realized the success of such shows as "Murphy Brown," "Major Dad," "Wiseguy," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Rescue: 911."

LeMasters left CBS in 1990 for a career as an independent producer, joining Stephen J. Cannell Productions in 1992. There he wrote and created the first-run syndication series "Hawkeye" and is executive-producing and writing the USA Network series "Silk Stalkings."

Tracy Glaser most recently executive-produced "Rosewood," "My Fellow Americans" and "Money Train." She joined Peters Entertainment as executive vice president in 1994, moving up to president in May 1995, a position she held until recently.

Earlier in her career, Glaser was vice president of Rastar Productions, where she was involved with the Emmy and Cable ACE Award-winning telefilm "Barbarians at the Gate," as well as the films "Mr. Jones" and "Lost in Yonkers."

Glaser then became senior vice president of Channel Productions, where she oversaw the development and production of such films as "Cops and Robbersons," "Guarding Tess" and "Mary Reilly."

Barry Josephson is Sonnenfeld's producing partner and president of the Sonnenfeld-Josephson Co. with Sonnenfeld. Previously, Josephson was president of production worldwide at Columbia Pictures, where he oversaw numerous action/adventure films, including "Air Force One," "Men in Black," "The Professional," "Anaconda," "Bad Boys" and "In the Line of Fire."

Earlier, as senior vice president of production for Silver Pictures, Josephson executive-produced "The Last Boy Scout" and "Ricochet," and co-produced the HBO series "Tales From the Crypt."

Graham Place was the executive producer of "The Addams Family" and co-producer of "For Love or Money." He worked with Joel and Ethan Coen as line producer on "Miller's Crossing" and as co-producer on "Barton Fink" and "The Hudsucker Proxy." Place served as co-producer on "Nell" with Jodie Foster and most recently was the co-producer for Barry Sonnenfeld on "Get Shorty" and "Men in Black."

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