Director takes on 'Rock' for Disney

Disney has set Brian Robbins to direct and produce “Jailhouse Rock,” a film based on the true story of an “American Idol”-like singing contest held in an Arizona jail. Studio has optioned an L.A. Weekly article by Joshuah Bearman.

Robbins will produce with Sharla Sumpter Bridgett through his Varsity Pictures banner. David Klawans (“Nacho Libre”) also will produce.

The article revolves around Bret Kaiser, a heavy-metal musician-turned-detention officer at Arizona’s Tent City, the fourth-largest jail in the country. Kaiser, whose life rights are part of the package, rallied thousands of inmates to participate in the “Inmate Idle Singing Con-Test.” Cell block hostilities were curtailed as inmates rallied around the contestants. Alice Cooper was a guest judge for the finals.

“I don’t see this as a prison movie as much as about the healing power of music,” Robbins told Daily Variety. “Like ‘Coach Carter,’ which came from a newspaper article we read, there’s nothing better than real-life drama.”

Robbins just wrapped the Eddie Murphy starrer “Starship Dave.”

Producer Klawans has now optioned two articles by L.A. Weekly staff writer Bearman. The other article has turned into “Escape From Tehran,” a drama Klawans is producing with Smokehouse partners George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

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