The Leaders Secretly Scheme
After developing several other projects with producer Neal H. Moritz, Pogue approached him about a thriller with a secret society as its center. He called the script The Skulls.

Moritz was immediately intrigued. "I loved the idea and really loved the script," he comments. "I was attracted to the milieu, and the characters were so compelling that I knew it would attract top young talent."

Having just completed a fruitful collaboration with director Rob Cohen on the critically-acclaimed, award-winning HBO movie The Rat Pack, Moritz showed him the script for The Skulls, and Cohen too was hooked.

Beyond the obvious thriller elements, for Cohen The Skulls asked some very tough questions about American society: Do we really live in a democracy or is there an elite, ruling class that runs everything? And if they do, what price would someone pay to become a member of the elite?

"Pogue's script was an exciting read," says Cohen. "I knew this Ivy League world first-hand, and thought I could weave these wonderful characters into an exciting, non-stop thriller that actually has something on its mind. My only question to Neal (Moritz) was, 'When do we start?'"

The answer was right away, since Moritz had recently put the finishing touches on a new financial partnership with Newmarket Capital Group. The project was immediately green-lit and pre-production commenced.

Both Moritz and Cohen believed The Skulls was a powerful subject for the core teen movie-going audience.

"I was very interested in doing a movie about young people," says Cohen, "because they are very loyal moviegoers and the material that is aimed at them is often very superficial: getting the girl, having sex, going to the prom. But here was an interesting, morally complex tale, that in a way speaks to many of the issues young men and women are faced with as they start out in life-friendship, loyalty, ambition, success."

Moritz, who has gained ample experience in the teen market by producing such blockbuster thrillers as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Cruel Intentions, believes that Pogue's script represents a step forward in the genre.

"I've done a lot of teen films and my feeling is if we are going to make a film that is directed towards young audiences, we have to give them something different. Teenagers are very sophisticated and media savvy. They demand and expect movies with edge and excitement."

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