'American Gangster' duo reunite for drama

Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment will once again mount a true-crime drama that focuses on an unlikely bond between men on either side of the law.

The pair, which drew today’s wide release “American Gangster” from a Mark Jacobson-penned New York mag article on drug dealer Frank Lucas, has optioned “The Knife,” an investigative article by Guy Lawson that will be published in the January issue of GQ.

Title refers to the code name given to a Crips member in South Central who became an informant and collaborated for a decade with FBI agent Tim Flaherty to crack murder, drug and arms-deal cases.

Brian Grazer will produce, with Paul de Souza and Henry Beane exec producing. Life rights for the gang member (whose identity is being kept secret) and Flaherty are part of the deal brokered by Hotchkiss and Associates.

Deal comes as HBO just closed a deal to give miniseries treatment to Lawson’s book “The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia.” Lawson wrote it with Bill Oldham, the New York police detective who helped build a case against ex-NYPD cops Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito,who were convicted of moonlighting as murderers for an organized crime family.

Mini will be exec produced by Dick Wolf and Tom Thayer, who originally set up the project at NBC as the basis for a TV series but instead will develop it as a follow-up to their Emmy-winning HBO telepic “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” HBO is putting the project in development as three studios are trying to mount features based on the Caracappa-Eppolito case.

“Tom and I are enormously pleased that we are able to continue our extraordinarily collaborative relationship with HBO on this project,” Wolf said. “‘The Brotherhoods’ represents an incredible story that needs to be told.”

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