'Heist' helmer to direct political prisoner's memoir

Brett Ratner has optioned Charles Robert Jenkins and Jim Frederick’s 2008 memoir “The Reluctant Communist,” the story of Jenkins’ 1965 desertion and subsequent 40-year imprisonment in North Korea. Ratner is “looking to direct,” according to Rat Entertainment’s John Cheng, with Ross Katz (HBO’s “Taking Chance”) writing the screenplay and Cheng producing.

Pic follows Jenkins as he surrenders to the North Koreans while drunk and then undergoes a strange and lengthy prison term.

“He was forced to act in (propaganda) movies as an American bad guy, and he became kind of a celebrity,” Cheng said. “People would come up to him on the street, because they recognized him from the films.”

Cheng added that Rat hopes to set the film up at a studio, but no actors were attached.

Rat Entertainment has been busy recently — Seth Gordon just wrapped principal photography on the shingle’s Christmas comedy “Horrible Bosses” and Ratner is in pre-production on Universal’s Noah Baumbach-scripted Ben Stiller starrer “Tower Heist.”

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