EXCLUSIVE: Famous prohibition agent Eliot Ness wasn’t even 30 years old when hit the pinnacle in his career by taking down Al Capone with his law enforcement team dubbed The Untouchables. The following two decades of his life are the subject of Ness, a drama series in development at WGN America from The Blacklist duo of Sony Pictures TV and Davis Entertainment. The project is based on Douglas Perry’s biography Eliot Ness: The Rise And Fall Of An American Hero, which is being published next week. The adaptation will be written by renowned crime novelist Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island; Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone), with Sony TV-based Michael Dinner (Justified) set to direct. The two are executive producing with Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox.
Ness’ 1929-31 heroics going after crime boss Capone in Chicago were chronicled in the 1959 ABC drama series The Untouchables starring Robert Stack as Ness and Brian De Palma’s Oscar-winning movie of the same name toplined by Kevin Costner. Ness will follow is the real (and untold) story of Ness post-Untouchables when he became the top cop in Cleveland, the most dangerous city in America during the 1930s. He spent the next decade fighting the mob, his own corrupt police department, and a serial killer on the streets. All while battling his alcoholism, serial philandering and the constant need for acclaim. (Ness was broke and an alcoholic when he died from a massive heart attack at 55 in 1957). Coincidentally, Sony TV is developing another project about Ness’ years in Cleveland on the longform side. Nemesis, an eight-hour miniseries for NBC, zeroes in on Ness’ hunt for the so-called Torso Killer, billed as America’s first serial killer. The mini is based on different source material, the book Nemesis: The Final Case Of Eliot Ness by William Bernhardt, with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron executive producing. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment have set best-selling author Dennis Lehane to script Silk Road, a fact-based tale taken from an article that Joshua Davis is writing for the Epic website, which is devoted to film-friendly longform journalism. It’s the true story of a young kid who was arrested for putting out a hit on the clients of the Silk Road, the illegal online bazaar he created where one could buy illegal goods including drugs or services like contract killings. Lehane wrote Shutter Island, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Live By Night, which is Ben Affleck’s next directing effort at Warner Bros. Lehane also scripted Animal Rescue, the Chernin-produced Michael R. Roskam-directed drama for Fox Searchlight that stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini.
Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping will produce along with Davis and Joshuah Bearman. Davis and Bearman are journalists who partnered in Epic, the company that formed a first-look Fox deal to produce films based on magazine articles hatched by them and other journalists. Bearman wrote the article that served as the jumping off point for Best Picture Oscar winner Argo.
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There was a stampede for the movie rights to this story, and Chernin’s Kerry Foster was integral in making this happen. Amy Schiffman from Intellectual Property Group and attorney Jason Hendler of Hanson Jacobson brokered the deal for Lehane. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Now that her TV series Smash has finished after a two-season run, Katharine McPhee is ready to try features. She has become attached to star in Depravity, a thriller with a script by Dennis Lehane and Paul Tamasy set to direct. A group of roommates accidentally kill an innocent man they thought was a thrill killer. It sends the group into a world unhinged from any moral compass, one in which they may be forced to confront not only the evil around them but the evil within them as well. McPhee stars as a twentysomething the group tries to scapegoat. The film is being produced by Dorothy Aufiero and Todd Eckert. McPhee is repped by The Schiff Company and WME.
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Dennis Lehane will adapt Travis McGee for Fox and Appian Way, based on 1964′s The Deep Blue Good-By and 20 subsequent novels by John D. MacDonald. Chernin Entertainment and Leonardo DiCaprio are producing, with the latter eyeing to star. The project previously had Paul Greengrass and Oliver Stone circling to direct.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros Pictures chief Jeff Robinov didn’t waste any time moving to make Ben Affleck‘s next picture after Argo snagged the Best Picture Oscar for the studio in February. I’ve learned that pre-production starts today on Affleck’s adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night with an eye to an August-September start date. So far only Affleck is cast. He also directs and produces as well as writes and stars in. Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr first reported that Affleck was in talks with his favorite studio on the project and eyeing it as his next directing vehicle months before Argo captured gold. Warner Bros acquired Live By Night in April 2012 when it was in galley form for Appian Way to be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran. Appian Way had a pre-existing relationship with Affleck and will now produce with Affleck’s Pearl Street, the Warner Bros-based company that Ben shares with Matt Damon. This is Affleck’s second adaptation of a Lehane novel: Ben in 2007 made his directorial debut with the gripping Gone Baby Gone based on the mystery series written by the author. Live By Night uses some of the characters from Lehane’s sprawling period novel The Given Day. The focus is Joe Coughlin, the black-sheep son of a police captain who gets involved in escalating levels of organized crime. The deal with Lehane and his agent Amy Schiffman … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight is in final talks with Tom Hardy to star in Animal Rescue, and is offering the female lead to Noomi Rapace. Searchlight is eyeing a March start date in New York for a film that was scripted by Gone Baby Gone author Dennis Lehane from a short story first published in the collection Boston Noir. Animal Rescue will be directed by Michael R. Roskam, whose breakout film Bullhead was a nominee for Best Foreign Language film last year. He was set earlier this fall. Chernin Entertainment is producing.
The drama focuses on a man who wants to shed his criminal path but somehow gets mixed up in a bad heist and a killing resulting from a lost and contested pit bull. As he has done with all his books, Lehane set the short story in the outskirts of Boston. But so many movies have been set there lately–including his Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island–that they’ve relocated the action to New York. The project originated at Fox 2000, but later moved over to Searchlight, and numerous pedigreed directors have circled it over the past two years. Hardy sparked to the chance to create the character and work with a director whose film he admired.
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EXCLUSIVE: As Warner Bros prepares for tomorrow’s release of the Ben Affleck-directed Oscar -entry Argo, Affleck is in talks at the studio to make Live By Night the next film he will write-direct-produce and star in. The project is based on the new novel by Dennis Lehane that was just published by William Morrow. Affleck made his directorial debut with the superb Gone Baby Gone in 2007, based on the mystery novel series written by Lehane.
Warner Bros acquired Live By Night in April when it was in galley form, to be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran’s Appian Way. Appian Way, which had a pre-existing relationship with Affleck that came together during its production of Runner, Runner, will now produce with Pearl Street, the WB-based company that Affleck shares with Matt Damon.
Live By Night uses some of the characters from Lehane’s sprawling period novel The Given Day and brings them into Prohibition. The focus is Joe Coughlin, the black-sheep son of a police captain who gets involved in escalating levels of organized crime. The deal with Lehane and his agent Amy Schiffman at IPG made back then brought Warner Bros rights to The Given Day. That sprawling classic of a novel had originally been optioned by Sam Raimi, but didn’t go anywhere. Lehane will complete the series as a trilogy but Affleck’s focus will be Live By Night and he certainly has shown a flair for bringing Lehane’s fiction to the screen. Read More »