Gangster's Paradise

It’s an old story in Hollywood: a script generates plenty of excitement, gathers a top-notch cast and then is shut down when a studio starts getting the budget jitters. Proof that show business is always more about the business bit…

So it was with American Gangster, a ‘70s-set crime drama that had been set up at Universal by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua in 2004. It was a month from gearing up, with Benicio Del Toro and Denzel Washington set to star. But when it looked like the budget would leapfrog the $100 million mark, the studio’s top brass got itchy wallet fingers and shut it down. The fact that Fuqua had come off the decidedly pants King Arthur probably didn’t help either.

But riding to the rescue of the story comes the A-Team of movie making, Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott. They’ve just finished making A Good Year, based on Peter Mayle’s French-based memoir and now they plan to make Gangster together. Credit must also go to uber-producer Brian Grazer, who fought to keep the project alive, hiring Hotel Rwanda helmer Terry George to retool the script and keep it affordable.

The film’s story follows a Harlem heroin dealer who found a way to smuggle the drug in the coffins of American troops returning from Vietnam. Crowe would play a police officer, but they’ll have to work around his schedule – he’s just signed up to Baz Luhrmann’s historical epic alongside Nicole Kidman…


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