Thesp to play coach of ragtag collegiate team

Kurt Russell is negotiating to star in “Miracle,” the story of how the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team toppled the seemingly invincible Soviet Union squad to capture the gold medal.

Russell will play Herb Brooks, who coached the ragtag team of collegiate players to victory.

Disney is hoping “Miracle” will do for hockey what “The Rookie” did for baseball.

That pic became a sleeper hit that grossed north of $75 million domestically for the studio.

The current draft of “Miracle” was written by “Rookie” scribe Mike Rich and is being produced by Gordon Gray and Mark Ciardi, who produced the baseball hit with Mark Johnson.

Gavin O’Connor is directing pic, which will begin shooting early next year in Canada.

There was a special poignancy in Brooks’ achievement. A former U.S. player himself, Brooks was the last skater to be cut from the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, the most recent one to win the gold medal before Brooks became the team coach. He cobbled together a group of players and taught them to excel at the European game.

Even so, the Russian team had won four consecutive gold medals and was so good that it defeated a team of National Hockey League all-stars. The U.S. team wasn’t expected to even make the medal rounds. But led by Brooks, the team defeated the Soviet Union in the semifinal round, then bested Finland in the finals to win the gold, prompting broadcaster Al Michaels to utter the now-famous line, “Do you believe in miracles.”

The CAA-repped Russell is negotiating the role at a time that hockey is very close to his heart. He and wife Goldie Hawn recently moved to Vancouver because their son, Wyatt, wants to become a professional player. That helped the recruitment process for the producers, whose Mayhem Pictures recently scored a three-year Disney deal after the success of “The Rookie.”

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