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Cheadle To Play Lucas
That's Frank, not George

31 May 2005  |  Written by   

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There's a few changes going on with American Gangster over at Universal studios. First of all, there's a director attached – Terry George, the man who recently brought us Hotel Rwanda. Second, it looks like Denzel Washington – once mooted to star, is no longer a cert for the role, as Terry is looking to re-team with Don Cheadle.

The role in question is that of Frank Lucas, a Harlem based heroin importer whose heyday was the 1970's. After he was brought down, he helped close all of the legal loopholes and blew the whistle on various levels of corruption that had enabled him to operate - sort of an inverse Serpico, if you like. Nothing is finalised yet, though, and apparently no offers will be made until the studio and producer Brian Grazer are happy with the draft.

The screenplay was penned by Steve Zaillian, but Universal balked at the budget, and have hired George for a more modestly priced rewrite. Let's hope this doesn't mean cutting back on purple velvet cloaks and peacock feathers – oh, hang on; he was a dealer, not a pimp (although we've heard no evidence to suggest he couldn't have been both). Well, as long as Terry can slip the phrase "bitch slap upside the head" into the dialogue somewhere, we'll be happy.

There's been no indication yet as to when Universal want to release American Gangster, but if things progress smoothly, a modestly budgeted film could be completed and in theatres by the end of the year – right in time for next year's Oscar race.

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