Inside moves

'Traffic' jammed with talent

For a project not yet set up, the Steve Soderbergh-directed “Traffic” is certainly trafficking in big-name talent. Since Fox 2000 put the Steve Gaghan script in turnaround, Catherine Zeta-Jones became aligned, and now word is that Harrison Ford is in conversations about playing the lead role.

The script does with drug trafficking what “Nashville” did with country music: Woven in are characters representing just about every segment of the drug trade — from dealers and abusers to the law enforcement officers and bureaucrats waging a futile war to thwart the drug trade. Ford is being courted for the biggest role in the ensemble, a judge who’s recruited to become U.S. drug czar at a time when the country escalates its effort to curtail Mexican border traffic. The czar’s hardline stance is sorely tested when his own teenage daughter develops a serious addiction to crack cocaine and heroin.

With the firming up of Zeta-Jones and Ford’s attachment looming, insiders say “Traffic” producers Laura Bickford and Bedford Falls partners Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz are in conversation with Fox suits about picking up the project once again, though other studios had been angling after it was placed in turnaround.

Ford and his longtime agent Patricia McQueeney recently formed an alliance with UTA to get better access to cutting-edge scripts, and “Traffic,” penned by UTA client Gaghan, was one of the first submitted by the tenpercentery.

— Claude Brodesser and Michael Fleming

‘Shooter’ no longer Franklin’s target

Helmer Carl Franklin has ankled as helmer and writer of “The Shooter,” the long-gestating Paramount Pictures and Lakeshore Entertainment co-production. Based on the novel “Point of Impact” by Stephen Hunter, “Shooter” is the story of a Vietnam vet and expert sniper, who years after putting his conscience-afflicting work behind him, is hired by a CIA-affiliated org for one last assignment. Ultimately, though, it emerges that he’s being tricked and made the patsy in a plot to kill the U.S. president.

The studio had hoped to begin lensing the thriller this year, and it may still. No new helmer has stepped in yet, and the William Morris-repped Franklin is not understood to be leaving for another pic.

— Claude Brodesser

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