NEW YORK — While Denzel Washington is in New York starring for Spike Lee in “He Got Game,” the Oscar-winning thesp is being courted for two high-profile pics.
Director Irwin Winkler is wooing him to team with Will Smith in “Lush Life,” the story of late jazz great Billy Strayhorn, based on the David Hajdu book which Universal bought. Smith is being wooed to play Strayhorn, a gay musician who collaborated with Duke Ellington for nearly 30 years but chose to remain out of the limelight. Washington, who starred as a jazzman in “Mo’ Better Blues,” is being sought to play Ellington.
Winkler is a jazz aficionado: He produced “Round Midnight,” which landed an Oscar nom for Dexter Gordon and a best-score statuette for Herbie Hancock.
Washington’s also being wooed big-time by Warner Bros. to star in “Green River Rising.” The pic, based on the Tim Willocks novel, could mark a reteam of Washington and director Alan Pakula, who last worked with Washington on “The Pelican Brief.”
The book is about a prison doctor about to be paroled who is caught in a riot. He doesn’t want to get involved, but is forced to when a woman he cares about is caught in the prison during the riot.
ICM’s Ed Limato reps Washington.