Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Scott Rudin to produce Sinatra, the film Martin Scorsese will direct about the life of singer-actor Frank Sinatra. Rudin joins Mandalay’s Peter Guber and Cathy Schulman, who brought in the project to the studio almost two years ago after they secured life and music rights from Frank Sinatra Enterprises, which is a joint venture of the estate of Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Warner Music Group. Phil Alden Robinson had been the original writer, but I’m told they are looking for another scribe. Scorsese’s Sikelia is also producing as is Tina Sinatra.

Rudin, nominated twice in the Best Picture Oscar race this year for producing The Social Network and True Grit, produced the 1999 Scorsese-directed Bringing Out the Dead. Rudin’s currently producing the David Fincher-directed  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which Steve Zaillian adapted from the Stieg Larsson novel, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the Stephen Daldry-directed adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel that stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. He is prepping at Paramount the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator, and at Universal he’s got the Paul Greengrass-directed Martin Luther King Jr.  assassination drama Memphis.

As for Scorsese, he’s in post-production on the 3D Hugo Cabret, which Paramount just signed on to release for Thanksgiving weekend. Scorsese is eyeing an adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel Silence as his next film, followed likely by the screen adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s memoir The Wolf of Wall Street, with Leonardo DiCaprio. Scorsese has long been intrigued by Sinatra and his Rat Pack, once planning to direct a film based on the Nick Tosches book Dino, with Tom Hanks poised to play Sinatra’s close pal Dean Martin. That project, with script from Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino collaborator Nick Pileggi, stalled. Considering that there are more than two dozen biographies of Sinatra in circulation, there is a great life story to be told here.

Since Rudin has such a track record for efficiency, is it too early to ponder who might best play Sinatra when the film gets made in a couple years?