Linklater linked to Imagine pigskin pic

Figuring it takes a Texan to helm a pic about the fanatical world of prep football in the Lone Star state, Imagine Entertainment is in negotiations with Richard Linklater to quarterback “Friday Night Lights.”

If the deal is finalized, Linklater — a native Texan and a high school gridiron grad — would pen a rewrite of the script and direct the pic.

The project has been in development at Imagine since the company acquired the rights to H.G. Bissinger’s 1990 nonfiction bestseller seven years ago.

In the book, Bissinger details an entire football season in Odessa, Texas, and all the pageantry and frenzy that ensues up to and during Friday night games in the small town.

The project has stalled before kickoff a couple of times, but Linklater might prove to have the right mix of perspective and a unique take on the subject to finally usher the film through production. Linklater would be the fourth director attached since it was acquired by Imagine.

Originally, Alan J. Pakula was attached to direct from David Aaron Cohen’s adaptation. Then, three years ago, Brian Levant was attached to helm, with Pakula moving over to produce. And last year, Jon Avnet reportedly signed to direct the film, which was supposed to begin production last fall in Odessa.

Pic will be produced by Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Pakula. Imagine Films prexy Michael Bostick is the exec overseeing the project for the Universal-based production banner.

Before Linklater could begin work on “Friday Night,” he first must finish work on the Texas-based period piece “The Newton Boys,” which recently wrapped principal photography for Fox 2000. Pic is tentatively scheduled for a February release.

The helmer’s credits include “Slacker,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Before Sunrise” (for which he received the Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear Award for best director in 1995) and “subUrbia.”

Linklater is repped by CAA’s Beth Swofford.

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