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Mob Movie Mania: Relativity Buys ‘Ness/Capone’ As Other Pics Percolate

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: At a time when organized crime films are back in vogue, Relativity Media’s Ryan Kavanaugh is wetting his beak. He’s acquired Ness/Capone, a Grant Pierce Myers script that made the 2010 Black Script and puts a new spin on the epic battle between Eliot Ness and Al Capone during the Prohibition Era 1920s. That battle was famously chronicled in the Brian DePalma-directed movie based on the TV series The Untouchables. Myers went back to the history books and came away with a much different version of Ness. While Kevin Costner played him as an incorruptible married choirboy who had to be taught to meet the mob on its own crooked terms, Ness/Capone’s Ness is a skirt-chasing 26-year old publicity hound who seemed to get an adrenaline charge out of courting danger, kicking in doors, smashing moonshine stores and rubbing it in the noses of Capone and other mobsters. He paraded confiscated bootleg trucks past Capone’s hotel, calling Capone in advance to suggest he look out the window. Deals are still being worked out, but the film will be produced by Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Jeremy Bell along with Hollywood Gang’s Gianni Nunnari and Virgin Produced’s Jason Felts and Rene Rigal.

This puts Relativity Media in another potential pic race (it has already gone to the mattresses against Universal over rival Snow White films). Warner Bros has its own Capone project, the Walon Green-scripted Cicero, an origin story. I’ve reported that the project has interest from David Yates when he resurfaces from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, his fourth and final Potter pic. Warner Bros also is going gangbusters on Gangster Squad, the Ruben Fleischer-directed pic that has Sean Penn negotiating to play L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen, and Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin as the cops who try to bring him down. Read More »

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TOLDJA! ‘Gangster Squad’ Casting Up With Sean Penn And Ryan Gosling, And Now Josh Brolin

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has begun negotiating with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin to star in Gangster Squad, the Will Beall-scripted crime drama that will be directed by Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer. Production will begin in the fall. Deadline told you last month that the studio had offered two of the main roles to Penn and Gosling. The linchpin of the film is Los Angeles mobster Mickey Cohen, which is the role that Penn is in talks to play. Gosling and Brolin are in talks to play two cops assigned to bring him down when the gangster’s penchant for violence leaves the blood of innocents on the street. Dan Lin and Kevin McCormick are producing.

Penn had become shaky on the role for a bit — he’s also in talks to star with Christian Bale in the Kurt Johnstad-scripted drama The Last Photograph, which will be directed by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo helmer Niels Arden Oplev for Dark Castle, but that pic doesn’t start production till next spring — but things have worked out after all. For Penn, this could well be as memorable a gangster turn as when Robert De Niro played Al Capone in The Untouchables. Cohen, a former boxer who became an associate of Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, was a charismatic figure … Read More »

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In Warner Bros Crime Spree, Studio Eyes Sean Penn For Mickey Cohen, David Yates For Capone Tale

Mike Fleming

Warner Bros is going to the mattresses on mobster movies. The studio has given the green light to Gangster Squad, the Will Beall-scripted crime drama that will be directed by Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer. The linchpin of the film is Los Angeles mobster Mickey Cohen, and the studio is formally offering the role to Sean Penn. Ryan Gosling is getting the offer to play one of two cops who try to bring him down. Warner Bros has been sweet on Penn for some time for a role that could be as memorable a gangster turn as when Robert De Niro played Al Capone in The Untouchables. Cohen, a former boxer who became an associate of Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, was a charismatic figure who caroused around town with a gorgeous girl on his arm, and often with his attractive etiquette coach at his side. He once even took part in a Life Magazine profile. But he was also considered a sociopath whose vices included sex and extortion, and  whose mood could darken on a dime. When innocent people got hurt, law enforcement hardened to the fact he had to be stopped. The drama, based on a series of articles by Paul Lieberman, is the fact-based tale of the crime fighting exploits of a squad of elite Los Angeles officers in the 1940s charged with stopping him and other … Read More »

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