'Italian' duo to pen pic about blackmail, extortion

Universal is close to signing scribes Wayne and Donna Powers to pen an adaptation of “The Rules of Silence,” novelist David Lindsey’s thriller about an extortion scheme.

The Powers duo penned Paramount’s caper remake “The Italian Job.” They also executive produced this past summer’s Showtime skein “Out of Order,” with Wayne directing most of the episodes. Show centered on a fictional married screenwriting couple’s career and relationship travails.

“Silence” follows Latin American gangsters who threaten to kill the family and friends of a Texas tech mogul unless he pays $64 million. Target of the plot enlists a former government special agent to fight his way out of the trap.

U optioned “Silence” last year in a mid-six-figure deal (Daily Variety, Aug. 29, 2002).

Supervising for U are production prexy Mary Parent and exec VP Donna Langley.

The scribes are repped by UTA.

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