WB enlists Haggis for soldier's story

“Million Dollar Baby” scribe Paul Haggis is entering the ring with Warner Bros. again on “Death and Dishonor,” a drama he will write and direct.

Haggis will also produce with Larry Becsey, his partner in the newly formed producing venture Blackfriars Bridge.

Based on a Mark Boal investigative article that appeared in Playboy last summer, “Death and Dishonor” is a gritty fact-based drama about a career officer’s search for his soldier son. The youth, who was reported AWOL after returning from the frontlines of Baghdad, was murdered by several members of his platoon after a night of rowdiness in Georgia.

Warners optioned the article and made a life rights deal with the father, Lanny Davis, a retired Army veteran whose long career as an M.P. led him to reject the Army’s AWOL assertion and begin an investigation that led to murder confessions.

Haggis plans to fictionalize the story into a topical murder mystery that will not shy away from Boal’s reports of the horrific battlefield experiences that hardened Davis and fellow soldiers.

Haggis said he will design the film for Clint Eastwood to play the role of Lanny Jones, just as he wrote “Million Dollar Baby” with Eastwood in mind for the lead role. Haggis said he didn’t know if he’d get a yes from Eastwood, for whom he just completed an adaptation of “Flags of Our Fathers.” Eastwood will direct that film in a production partnership with Steven Spielberg.

Pic joins a swelling rank of films that deal directly with the Iraq invasion.

“When I read the article, I was deeply affected and disturbed by it and thought a studio would run from it,” Haggis said.

Haggis made his directing debut on the Lions Gate pic “Crash,” which bows May 6. Haggis will begin writing “Death and Dishonor” next week, and will be writing a script based on an idea given him by Spielberg, which he will direct. Haggis will next direct his New Line script adaptation of the Bart Baker novel “Honeymoon With Harry.”

WB’s Lynn Harris and Lauren Craniotes will steer “Death and Dishonor.”

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