‘ER’ Star La Salle May Helm HBO Pic During Hiatus

Emmy-nominated “ER” star Eriq La Salle is near a deal to direct one of two films that have been offered to him by HBO during his hiatus from the show. La Salle will either direct HBO Showcase’s “In Too Deep,” the true story of an undercover cop who grows emotionally too close to the bad guys, or “First Time Felon,” another true story of a man whose life gets turned around by a prison boot camp system. La Salle and his Gersh agent Lorrie Bartlett will commit shortly to one of the projects, with “In Too Deep” particularly tempting, because LaSalle would take a co-starring role as a drug lord who befriends the tormented undercover cop.

La Salle also has nearly completed a deal to turn his $40,000 short film “Psalms From the Underground” into a feature film. La Salle got positive response from a recent industry screening of the short on the Warner Bros, lot, and one of the attendees, Mel Gibson, had his Icon Prods, pick up the feature. The company is currently showing the film and La Salle’s feature-length script to studios for financing. Sources said La Salle made the decision to concentrate on the HBO project during this hiatus to get more behind-the-camera experience. It will also give him more time to develop “Psalms,” which he hopes to direct during his “ER” hiatus in 1997.

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