Hill to helm UA’s ‘Wild Bill’ Western

In a year shaping up to be chock-full of six-shooter pix, Walter Hill is set to helm the historical Western “Wild Bill” for United Artists. Hill’s deal closed late Friday p.m. No actors have been set.

“Wild Bill” will be produced by Richard Zanuck and Lili Fini Zanuck under their Zanuck Co. banner.

Hill also rewrote the screenplay, combining elements from Thomas Babe’s play “Fathers and Sons,” Pete Dexter’s screenplay based on his book “Deadwood,” and a Ned Wynn screenplay also titled “Wild Bill.”

“Wild Bill” is the story of legendary frontier lawman Wild Bill Hickock, who roamed the South Dakota town of Deadwood just before the turn of the century.

He had a long romance with famed shootist Mary Jane Canary, better known as Calamity Jane, lived a tumultuous life, and was shot dead from behind while playing poker in a local saloon. His hand — two aces and two eights — instantly become known as “dead man’s hand.” Ironically, Deadwood today is a bustling gambling town.

Hill directed the Jason Patric/Wes Studi historical Western “Geronimo,” which focused on the unbowed but ultimately doomed Chiricahua Apache chief.

Hill previously helmed “48 Hrs.,””Trespass,””The Warriors” and “Streets of Fire.” Among the Zanucks’ credits are the Oscar-winning “Driving Miss Daisy” and both “Cocoon” installments.

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