Latest News and Gossip
|Trailer, Movie Clips, Interviews,
|January 19, 2007:
||Washington says Crowe is just a 'softy at heart'
|August 22, 2006:
||Chiwetel Ejiofor, RZA and
John Ortiz join cast
|August 16, 2006:
||Josh Brolin joins cast
|March 24, 2006:
||Steve Zaillian to re-write
|February 14, 2006:
||Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe
and Denzel Washington
|May 31, 2005:
||Don Cheadle in talks for
|March 14, 2005:
||Terry George Gets American
|October 7, 2004:
||Universal Cancels American
|September 13, 2004:
||Diana Ramirez Joins Cast
|May 24, 2004:
||Benicio Del Toro To Star
|March 29, 2004:
||Denzel Washington In Talks
To Play Villain
|March 16, 2004:
Denzel Washington says Russell Crowe is a big "softy".
says Crowe is just a 'softy at heart'
There were fears the two strong-willed actors would clash on
the set of the recently completed film, American Gangster, but
Washington said Crowe did not live up to his infamous reputation.
"Russell Crowe is cool. He's a good guy," Washington
said. "He's intense, but he's a sweetheart. He's a softy."
American Gangster, a crime drama set in 1970s New York and directed
by Ridley Scott, is scheduled for release in November and will
likely have Washington and Crowe in line for Oscars.
2006: Chiwetel Ejiofor, RZA and John Ortiz join cast
Chiwetel Ejiofor, RZA and John Ortiz are the latest to join the cast
of the crime drama, American Gangster for Universal Pictures and Imagine
The film already stars Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington; Ridley
Scott is directing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, rappers-turned-actors
T.I. and Common, as well as Ted Levine, John Hawkes and Yul Vazquez
also have been added to the cast. The movie is based on the life
of drug kingpin-turned-informant Frank Lucas (Washington), who shipped
heroin to the U.S. in the coffins of soldiers killed in Vietnam.
Lucas was brought to justice by lawman Richie Roberts (Crowe). The
two then worked together to expose the crooked cops and foreign
nationals. Ejiofor will play Washington's brother, who helps Frank
run his heroin empire.
American Gangster is currently shooting in New York; a 2007 release
has been scheduled.
16, 2006: Josh Brolin joins cast
Josh Brolin is joining the cast of the
crime drama, American Gangster for Universal Pictures and Imagine
Already starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington, the film
takes place in the 1970s and is based on the life of drug-kingpin-turned-informant
Frank Lucas (Washington), who shipped heroin back to the U.S. in
the coffins of soldiers killed in Vietnam. Lucas was brought to
justice by lawman Richie Roberts (Crowe). The Hollywood Reporter
adds the two then worked together to expose the crooked cops and
Ridley Scott is directing American Gangster, which is currently
shooting in New York; a 2007 release has been scheduled.
24, 2006: Steve Zaillian to re-write American Gangster
In a seven-figure deal, Universal Pictures
and Imagine Entertainment have rehired Steve Zaillian, this time
to rewrite American Gangster.
The studio has also committed to a late July start date for the
film to be directed by Ridley Scott and star Denzel Washington and
Russell Crowe. Brian Grazer is producing.
The rewrite job and start date end speculation over whether Universal
would step up to a reconfigured version of a film it killed last
Former Universal chairman Stacey Snider had put the brakes on a
version of the film that had Antoine Fuqua directing Washington
and Benicio Del Toro as she feared the budget could top $100 million.
It was an expensive move, since the actors had pay-or-play deals
that had to be settled.
Zaillian had written the original script about a Harlem drug kingpin
(Washington) who smuggled heroin in the body bags of U.S. soldiers
slain in Vietnam.
After the film halted, Universal conscripted Terry George to pen
a downsized version of the story, but Grazer and Imagine exec Jim
Whitaker couldn't let go of Zaillian's vision of the crime story.
14, 2006: Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington
Variety reports that Ridley Scott is
in talks to direct Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington in the Brian
Grazer-produced drama that had its plug pulled in late 2004 by Universal.
The hope is to shoot this summer.
Universal will decide this week whether to finance or co-finance
the revamped '70s crime drama, or possibly let it go. Two other
studios are circling the project if Universal backs down.
The drama has a checkered past. In late 2004, Antoine Fuqua was
a month from starting production in Harlem with Washington and Benicio
Del Toro when Universal Pictures chairman Stacey Snider canceled
the film over fear the budget would cross $100 million. Pay-or-play
deals with Washington and Del Toro got settled, and the studio wrote
off more than $20 million.
Imagine's Grazer, who developed the drama from a New York magazine
article by Mark Jacobson, kept trying. Hotel Rwanda writer-director
Terry George was brought on to rework Steve Zaillian's script and
rein in the budget. Scott is working with George's draft.
The story revolves around a Harlem heroin kingpin who figured out
a way to smuggle heroin in the coffins of American soldiers returning
from the Vietnam War.
Crowe, who would play a cop, appears to have the most challenging
schedule. He's booked to star with Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann's
untitled period epic.
Crowe and Scott just completed "A Good Year" and previously
made Gladiator together. Grazer made A Beautiful Mind and "Cinderella
Story" with Crowe. Crowe and Washington previously played adversaries
in "Virtuosity," before Crowe became a star in "L.A.
31, 2005: Don Cheadle in talks for American Gangster
According to Variety, Universal Pictures
and director Terry George are courting Don Cheadle to star in American
Gangster for Imagine.
An offer won't be made to Cheadle for Gangster until George completes
the script, but the studio and producer Brian Grazer want the thesp.
The pic nearly went into production with Denzel Washington in the
role, but the project was halted over budget concerns. George was
hired in March to rework Steve Zaillian's script to a more manageable
Cheadle would play Frank Lucas, a Harlem heroin kingpin in the
1970s who, after he was brought to justice, helped end the corruption
and legal loopholes that allowed him to import the drug from Southeast
14, 2005: Terry George Gets American Gangster
Universal Pictures and Imagine are ready
to give American Gangster another chance with Hotel Rwanda writer-director
In October, weeks before production was set to begin, the studio
pulled the plug on the period pic. Antoine Fuqua was to direct Denzel
Washington and Benicio Del Toro, who both had pay-or-play deals.
Universal drew the line because of fears that the gritty period
drama was on course to cost more than $100 million. The studio is
estimated to have paid out $20 million-plus to settle its pay-or-play
The film's producer, Imagine topper Brian Grazer, and U vice chairman
Scott Stuber will redevelop the film with George. The goal is to
make it for around $50 million. George's deal will be negotiated
Since George directed "Hotel Rwanda" to critical acclaim,
speculation has begun that that pic's Oscar-nominated star Don Cheadle
would be drafted to play the lead role of Frank Lucas, the mastermind
of a scheme to smuggle heroin into the U.S. in the caskets of soldiers
killed in Vietnam.
Del Toro had been set to play narcotics lawman Richie Roberts,
who brought down the Harlem drug kingpin called Superfly and then
drafted Lucas to help bring down the dirty cops and overseas conspirators
who made it easy to import heroin into the U.S.
No casting will be done until Universal's brass is confident the
Steven Zaillian-scripted drama can be executed stylishly for a reduced
7, 2004: Universal Cancels American Gangster
According to Variety, days after director
Antoine Fuqua ankled over creative differences, American Gangster
has been rubbed out by Universal Pictures.
Scripted by Steve Zaillian, the film was to star Denzel Washington
and Benicio Del Toro. Both actors have pay-or-play deals that will
have to be settled out. The pic was to be produced by Imagine's
Brian Grazer and begin lensing next month in Harlem.
The film's cancellation came after the studio spent several days
trying to find a director to replace Fuqua, one who might have given
a hardcore crime film a broader commercial appeal. Ultimately, sources
said studio brass decided that the developments would only escalate
a budget that was hovering in the $80 million range and would be
difficult to recoup given the subject matter.
American Gangster is based on a New York magazine article by Mark
Jacobson about Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, who smuggled heroin
in the caskets of soldiers killed in Vietnam. He was eventually
collared by New York detective Richie Roberts, who got Lucas to
turn against his drug compatriots and the crooked cops who made
his smuggling scheme possible. Washington was to play Lucas, Del
Toro was to play Roberts.
Universal confirmed that the film was finished, citing time constraints
and creative elements as its reason.
"We thank the actors and crew who worked on this project for
their time and dedication," a spokesman said. "We look
forward to making future projects with Denzel Washington, Benicio
Del Toro and all of the individuals that were involved in the development
of this project."
13, 2004: Diana Ramirez Joins Cast
According to The Hollywood Reporter,
Dania Ramirez, who starred in Spike Lee's She Hate Me and has a
role in Ed Zwick's live-action Fat Albert for 20th Century Fox,
is in negotiations for a coveted role in the Brian Grazer-produced
American Gangster opposite Denzel Washington and Benicio Del Toro.
Antoine Fuqua is directing the Universal Pictures/Imagine Entertainment
project, set to start shooting in the fall for release Nov. 4, 2005.
"Gangster," previously known as "Tru Blu,"
is based on a New York Magazine article by Mark Jacobson. Steve
Zaillian adapted the work, which centers on real-life Harlem drug
lord Frank Lucas (Washington), who rose to power in the early 1970s
by smuggling heroin into the United States in the caskets of soldiers
killed in Vietnam. After detective Richie Roberts (Del Toro) catches
up with him, Lucas cooperates with drug enforcement officials and
aids Roberts in a dragnet operation.
Ramirez would play a former Miss Puerto Rico who is the wife of
24, 2004: Benicio Del Toro To Star
According to Variety, Benicio Del Toro
will star alongside Denzel Washington in the Antoine Fuqua-directed
"Tru Blu". The film will be based on a true story of how
a lawman brought down the biggest drug kingpin in Harlem in the
1970s. Production will begin in early fall.
29, 2004: Denzel Washington In Talks To Play Villain
According to Entertainment Weekly, Denzel
Washington will be in Tru Blu. the article reads, " Villian
of the Week: Denzel Washington. The oscar winner may once again
give in to his dark side: He's currently in talks to reunite with
Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for Universal's Superfly update,
16, 2004: Superfly Movie
According to Variety, Denzel Washington
and helmer Antoine Fuqua are in negotiations to reunite on a biopic
of Harlem heroin kingpin Frank Lucas. Under the working title "The
Return of Superfly," the movie is being produced by Brian Grazer
and Imagine Entertainment for Universal Pictures.
Imagine and Universal hope to go into
production on "Superfly" late this summer.
The script, penned by Steven Zaillian,
centers on narcotics lawman Richie Roberts' struggle to bring down
Lucas, whose flamboyant style earned him the street name "Superfly."
Lucas goes on to help Roberts hunt down dirty cops and overseas
American Gangster, a Ridley Scott
film, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.
American Gangster Movie.
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