Cass Warner is the grand-niece of Jack Warner, and she has directed a couple of documentaries, one about her great-uncle and his mogul brothers, the other about Dennis Hopper. Back in 1988, however, she was a screenwriting student, and her teacher was Howard Koch, one of the screenwriters of Casablanca.
This was when, as Warner has told The NY Post's Lou Lumenick, she:
volunteered to try my best to get his works produced.And chief amongst these projects is his treatment for a sequel, Return to Casablanca.
Hoping to get the project ready for next year's 90th anniversary of the studio her family founded, Warner took the project to the current WB head honchos eighteen months ago and, perhaps unsurprisingly, they passed.
But she's still trying - and talking to the press about it. And there's apparently one condition that, if she could meet it, would get the studio to bite.
They indicated they were willing to revisit this if I could find a filmmaker they were interested in working with.Who on Earth could that be?
My first though was Steven Soderbergh, but he sorta-kinda already did his own take on this kind of material with The Good German, and he's also planning to retire. A Spielberg or a Scorsese or even a Fincher could get this ball rolling, maybe. Those guys are the type that stand for credibility in the eyes of a studio exec.
But would any of them actually bite? Would any of these guys dare touch Casablanca?
Perhaps having a treatment by Howard Koch might be enough to ensure 'perceived legitimacy' in the eyes of such a filmmaker.
Koch's treatment, written in the 80s, says that the film would focus on Richard, the son of Rick and Ilsa, conceived during the events of the first film.
The boy was to be adopted by Laszlo and raised as his own. Most of the events of the film would then take place in the 60s, when Richard travels to Casablanca after the death of his mother and adoptive father.
To cut a long story short, Richard becomes involved in a citizen's movement led by an Arabic character inspired, somehow, by Joan Baez - and, indeed named Joan. Apparently Koch was a fan.
Warner Bros. turned this treatment down in the late 80s, as well as when Cass Warner re-proposed it a couple of years back.
But will she be able to find that magical moviemaker that would open the gates and get the project into production? Is somebody with Hollywood power going to take a shine to this treatment and elevate Warner's dream into a prospect that the studio will take a punt on?
Well, she says she's hopeful - and this is the studio that developed a shot-for-shot remake of The Wizard of Oz.
You know, I can't say I'm "hopeful" like Warner... but that doesn't mean I don't think it might happen.