Working Title recruits Burns

Scribe to pen 2 crime pix

Working Title Films has pacted with scribe Scott Burns on two projects: a spec about crime in modern-day Russia with Peter Berg attached to direct, and a pitch based on the life story of a crime-scene cleaner.

Burns’ script, “PU239,” is a cautionary tale set in post-glasnost Russia in which a young man who works in a secret city travels to Moscow to see his family and becomes entwined in the adventures of a low-level mobster. Script’s title refers to the atomic number for plutonium.

“It’s the intersection of a decaying Soviet Union with a burgeoning black market,” said Burns, who spent two weeks researching the project in the former Soviet republic. “You see a lot of sleaze mingling with our culture of hamburgers and the Gap.”

Burns’ pitch is based on the life of Neil Smithers, a crime-scene cleaner who was profiled in the collection “Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs at the Turn of the Millennium,” which was published by Crown last May. Burns optioned Smithers’ account, which was also excerpted in Harper’s Magazine.

President of production Liza Chasin will oversee the projects’ development.

Burns, who was part of the copywriting team that devised the “Got Milk?” campaign and was a writer on Berg’s ABC drama “Wonderland,” is repped by ICM.

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