Richards, Sarsgaard to star in Reyes pic

John Leguizamo has signed to star with Denise Richards and Peter Sarsgaard in “Empire,” a film written and directed by Franc Reyes which has just started production in New York under the Gotham-based Bigel/Mailer Films banner.

The pic is the story of an ambitious Latino hustler (Leguizamo) who entrusts his money to a slick business investor (Sarsgaard) and his girlfriend (Richards), only to find he’s the victim of con artists.

The film has an ensemble cast that includes Isabella Rosellini, Nestor Serrano, Sonia Braga, Ruben Blades, Fat Joe and Treach, best known for his musical work in Naughty by Nature.

Reyes is a Bronx-born songwriter and music producer who made his first foray into film with the award-winning short film “In the Deep South,” which starred Jon Seda and Lauren Velez. Reyes and EMI Music Publishing exec Evan Lamberg will produce the soundtrack, with Blades composing the film’s score.

The film is being produced by Daniel Bigel and Michael Mailer, who recently wrapped the James Toback-directed “Harvard Man,” which had an ensemble cast topped by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Joey Lauren Adams and Adrian Grenier.

The producers are also prepping the release of the Burt Reynolds-directed film “The Last Producer” for USA Films, and are about to go into production on the Illeana Douglas-directed “Sorority Rule,” scripted by Ellen Rapoport, and “A Wall Street Story,” to be directed by Paul Michael Glaser from a script by first-time scribe Joseph DiRenzo.

Leguizamo will next be seen in the Baz Luhrmann-directed “Moulin Rouge,” and is co-starring with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Warner Bros./Bel Air drama “Collateral Damage,” which is currently filming in Mexico.

Sarsgaard stars in the Castle Rock film “The Salton Sea” and “Unconditional Love” at New Line, and Richards will be seen in the Steve Rash-directed “Good Advice” and co-stars with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in “Third Wheel” from Miramax.

Leguizamo is repped by William Morris Agency and 3 Arts, Sarsgaard by CAA and manager John Rubenstein and Richards is repped by Gersh and AMG.

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