Gavin O'Connor to direct Universal drama

Universal Pictures is acquiring “Sunny and 68,” a spec script drama that Vince Vaughn will star in and Gavin O’Connor will direct.

O’Connor, who wrote the script with Anthony Tambakis, will produce with Vaughn’s Wild West Picture Show Prods. banner. Universal got first crack at the script because Vaughn has a deal there. He’s currently starring in “Couples Retreat,” which he produces with Scott Stuber.

O’Connor, whose “Pride and Glory” was released this past weekend by Warner Bros., said he and Tambakis wrote the script, a drama with comedic overtones, with Vaughn in mind for the lead character.

Vaughn will play a superstar on the poker circuit whose alcoholism and recklessness cause him to flame out on national television. Wiped out and owing $500,000 to bookies, he heads home to upstate New York for the first time in 20 years, looking to take back cash he’d been sending his mother. Instead, he finds his mother dying of cancer and raising a 5-year-old girl who is actually his daughter. Mom has been positioning his former high school g.f. to become the girl’s eventual caretaker.

“It’s a story of how three generations of women teach this character to become a man,” said O’Connor. The title comes from the character’s mother, who, despite the cold weather, insists that “it’s sunny and 68.”

O’Connor is prepping his next directing project, “Warrior,” a mixed martial arts drama he wrote with Tambakis that he’ll shoot next year for Lionsgate. Plan is to shoot “Sunny and 68″ in upstate New York in February 2010.

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