WB engages a ‘Cold War’

Warner Bros. has purchased outright William Mosley-Payne’s spec script “A Stone Cold War” for studio-based producers George Jackson and Doug McHenry.

The deal, brokered by Ronda Gomez of Broder, Kurland, Webb, Uffner, will see Payne get $ 600,000 if the picture, described as “an urban ‘Robin Hood’ action drama,” is made. The writer said he is otherwise guaranteed $ 250,000.

Jackson and McHenry indicated that “Stone Cold War” is being put on a fast-track schedule with production targeted as early as April or May. The filmmaking duo have a first-look deal at Warner Bros., for whom they produced the 1991 hit “New Jack City.”

Pitched as a political action thriller–“The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3″ meets ” 48 HRS”–the script is being sent out to directors.

Payne said the story centers around the leader of an inner-city gang who kidnaps the newly elected premier of Russia when he comes through town and holds him as ransom for his imprisoned brother’s freedom.

Jackson said, “While the script has all the elements for an exciting plot-driven action film, it has such strong characters and emotions that it’s equally a tale about the bond between two brothers, about how far one will go for family and how far before one must stop.”

Payne said he was “very glad” that Jackson and McHenry were going to produce his movie since they, like he, believe in the entertainment value of movies. The writer said he had originally discussed the idea for the movie with Jackson four years ago, but only scripted the piece last October. “Stone Cold War” is the first spec sale for Payne in five years, since his urban comedy “Livin’ Large” was bought by the Samuel Goldwyn Co. and subsequently made in 1991.

Since that time, the writer has worked on various assignments, including an original for Barry Levinson’s Baltimore Pictures and TriStar titled “Monarch Pictures,” a drama about a black man who makes a movie in 1939 to counteract “Birth of a Nation,” only to see it open the same day as “Gone With the Wind” and get buried as a result.

In addition to “New Jack City,” Jackson and McHenry co-directed and produced New Line’s “House Party 2.” McHenry, along with Michael Schultz, produced the 1985 music-driven “Krush Groove,” which Jackson and Robert O. Kaplan executive produced.

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