Walker jumps into ‘Bobby’s’ world

Thesp will produce Aarniokoski-helmed pic

Paul Walker will star in and produce the feature adaptation of “The Death and Life of Bobby Z” for Millennium Films, Blue Collar Films and Eclectic Pictures.

Budgeted at $23 million, “Bobby Z” is the story of a first-rate loser who dodges prison by making a deal with the DEA that requires he pose as a legendary surfer-drug dealer, Bobby Z, in a hostage switch with a Mexican drug lord. When the ruse backfires, the fake Bobby Z goes on the run, with the 6-year-old son of the real Bobby Z in tow.

Doug Aarniokoski will direct, with production scheduled for a September start. Aarniokoski helmed second unit for Robert Rodriguez on “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” and served as first A.D. on “Spy Kids,” “The Faculty” and “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”

Bob Krakower and Allan Lawrence adapted the screenplay, which is based on the first novel by Don Winslow (“A Cool Breeze on the Underground”).

Producers are Matt Luber, Heidi Jo Markel, Keith Samples, Peter Schlessel and Larry Schapiro. Executive producers are Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort and Trevor Short.

Walker is shooting “Antarctica,” directed by Frank Marshall for Disney. He next appears in “Into the Blue,” which will be released Sept. 30 through Sony. He also stars in Wayne Kramer’s “Running Scared,” which recently was acquired by New Line Cinema.

Credits for Markel’s Eclectic include “Ivansxtc” and “Blind Horizon.”

Walker produces through his Blue Collar shingle.

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