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Legendary Courts Harrison Ford To Play Branch Rickey In Jackie Robinson Film ’42′

By | Thursday December 8, 2011 @ 8:42am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures is courting Harrison Ford to play Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in 42, the Brian Helgeland-directed chronicle of how Rickey and Jackie Robinson eradicated segregation in baseball in 1947. Helgeland has written a script after Legendary jump-started a long dormant project in collaboration with Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson. The film’s being produced by Legendary’s Thomas Tull with Jon Jashni and Dick Cook exec producing. The film will be released by Warner Bros.

Numerous top actors have been mentioned for the Rickey role, including Robert Redford, who was attached a decade ago when the project was first contemplated. Now, it looks like it’s Ford’s role if he wants it, and while he has been mentioned for a number of projects including Ender’s Game, here he would be playing the man who with Robinson was the catalyst for the most groundbreaking event to occur in sports in the 20th century.

It wasn’t enough to decide to break baseball’s color line; Rickey had to search for the right player and qualities that went beyond hitting, fielding, speed and a throwing arm. Read More »

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Tony Scott Boarding ‘The Wild Bunch’ While Revving ‘Hell’s Angels’ As Next Pic

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Deadline revealed this morning that Ridley Scott was returning to his sci-fi classic Blade Runner. His Scott Free partner and brother Tony Scott is also getting serious about a new version of a movie classic. Scott is in talks with Warner Bros to direct a reboot of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah-directed The Wild Bunch. This film becomes one of three or so that Scott is most eager to direct as his follow-up to the Denzel Washington-Chris Pine action film Unstoppable.

Scott’s next assignment will be Hell’s Angels, though its timing will depend on whether he gets the actor he wants to play gang leader Sonny Barger. I’m told that he wants Jeff Bridges. They’ve not met face to face yet, because Bridges is right now touring his self-titled musical album that he recorded after he won the Oscar playing Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. Once Bridges gets back to film work, he’s booked to star with Ryan Reynolds in Universal’s R.I.P.D. and Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ The Seventh Son. If Scott has his heart set on Bridges and the actor says yes, Hell’s Angels won’t get underway until next spring or later. Fox 2000′s Hell’s Angels is set around the Laughlin riots of 2001 when the Angels were caught up in a war with rival gang The Mongols. The drama revolves around a friendship that develops between … Read More »

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FilmDistrict Acquires Taylor Hackford-Helmed ‘Parker’ With Jason Statham

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: FilmDistrict is closing a deal for U.S. distribution rights to Parker, the Taylor Hackford-directed thriller that will star Jason Statham. Production starts in early August. The John J. McLaughlin-scripted film is an adaptation of the Donald E. Westlake novel series, and Statham is playing a character that Mel Gibson played in the Brian Helgeland-directed Payback and Lee Marvin played in the John Boorman-directed Point Blank. Parker is a thief, but one who follows a strict moral code he’ll kill to uphold. The producers are Steven Chasman, Sidney Kimmel, Les Alexander, Jonathan Mitchell and Hackford. The film’s casting up quickly, and the movie was a prominent sales title during the Cannes Film Festival where Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer sold offshore rights and made the domestic deal. Meyer has sold most world territories. Incentive Filmed Entertainment funded the film, and produced with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Sierra/Infinity. Sierra/Infinity and Incentive Filmed Entertainment previously teamed on Shark Night 3D, a movie that will be released in September. Read More »

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Legendary Pictures Mounts Jackie Robinson Biopic, Dick Cook Is Exec Producer

Mike Fleming

Legendary Pictures has announced it has made a deal to collaborate with the estate of Jackie Robinson and his widow Rachel on a feature biopic about the Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman who broke Major League Baseball’s color line. Brian Helgeland will write the script and direct the film. Legendary chairman Thomas Tull will produce and Jon Jashni will be exec producer. Notably, Dick Cook, who has been quiet since leaving as Walt Disney Studios chairman, will be an exec producer on the film, which will be made under Legendary’s overall deal at Warner Bros. Cook is on the Legendary board and he and Tull have become close. They are also big baseball fans, which led to Cook involving himself in the picture.

Hollywood has long been interested in bringing Robinson’s story to the screen. Spike Lee once tried to direct a version with Denzel Washington in the lead role. And Robert Redford has for years tried to tackle the story from the vantage point of Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who signed Robinson and put him on the team. Redford has long wanted to play the role of Rickey. The project was stalled for years, though it recently got ink that it was resuscitated, mainly on the basis of Redford saying he still wanted to play the role, though there was no indication of who would fund it. Read More »

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‘Cleopatra’ Conversation Turns To David Fincher

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: What has happened with Sony Pictures’ plans to mount an exciting new biopic of Cleopatra, with Angelina Jolie attached as the Egyptian queen, based on Stacy Schiff’s bestselling book Cleopatra: A Life? I’m told the director conversation right now is with David Fincher, who just got a Best Director Oscar nomination working with Cleopatra producer Scott Rudin, and who is working with Rudin on the Stieg Larsson novel adaptation The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, also at Sony Pictures.

You’ll recall last October that Deadline revealed James Cameron’s keen interest in directing a PG-13 3D version of the movie with a Brian Helgeland script, until 20th Century Fox stepped up and got him to commit instead to two Avatar sequels. After that, speculation centered around Paul Greengrass, who wound up instead directing his own script, Memphis, about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., for Universal, also with Rudin producing.

It’s not surprising that the top directors in town are after this gig. As Rudin has described it, this is the first telling of the Cleopatra story from a woman’s perspective. Instead of simply being a seductress, as she was portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 Joseph L. Mankiewicz-directed film, Cleopatra is also a shrewd politician, strategist and warrior, with sexual charisma to spare. The feeling is the role is a perfect fit for Jolie, who might be the only actress right now with the box office … Read More »

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