Favreau hit for MGM’s ‘Marciano’

Climbing into the cinematic ring from which Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone emerged victorious, “Swingers” star Jon Favreau is in final talks to play pugilist Rocky Marciano in MGM’s biopic “Marciano,” based on the life of the late boxing great.

Charles Winkler is set to direct from his screenplay. Irwin Winkler and Rob Cowan will produce. Winkler is no stranger to the sweet science; among the films he has produced are “Rocky” and “Raging Bull.”

Though not yet greenlit, pic is tentatively slated to begin production in February or March, pending successful completion of the script and budget approval.

Story will chronicle the heavyweight’s rise to fame, with the crescendo coming in 1952 when Marciano beat Joe Walcott for the heavyweight title at age 29. Marciano is the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated, hanging up his gloves in 1956 after 49 bouts (including knocking out the legendary Joe Louis at the end of Louis’ career,) with a lifetime earnings of $1.7 million. He died with two friends in a plane crash in 1969 en route to his 46th birthday party.

MGM prexy Michael Nathanson and exec VP of production Greg Foster negotiated the deal on behalf of the studio.

“Marciano” joins a burgeoning slate of pics to which Favreau is attached to star in and/or write.

He will next be seen in the DreamWorks/Paramount asteroid disaster pic “Deep Impact,” co-starring with Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall; and co-starring in the indie thriller “Very Bad Things,” playing Cameron Diaz’s fiance.

Among his writing gigs are an adaptation of Po Bronson’s novel “The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest” for 20th Century Fox (Daily Variety, Sept. 11).

Favreau is repped by UTA and attorney Geoff Oblath of Armstrong, Hirsch, Jackoway, Tyerman and Wertheimer.

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