Director Tony Scott has signed on to develop and direct a film on the Hell’s Angels outlaw motorcycle club, based on an unpublished autobiography of Ralph “Sonny” Barger. Barger was for years the most identifiable figure of the rough and tumble counterculture lifestyle that the Angels symbolized and a lightning rod for controversy, who’s simultaneously looking for a publishing deal for his memoirs.
“I’ve long been part of that Hollywood chapter of Hells Angels wannabees who ride around on motorcycles, and have always been fascinated by that world of people who lived on the edge,” said Scott, who has five motorcycles.
“The Angels cover a great rock ‘n’ roll era of the ’50s and ’60s, and what I want to bring to the screen is the anarchy that reigned and the adrenaline rush of sitting among 60 bikes moving down the highway at 80 or 90 mph. It’s a great arena and great characters, and I’ve always wanted to do this.”
The film will be produced by Ben Myron, Fritz Clapp (the longtime attorney for both the Angels and Barger) and Scott Free. It’s being shopped to studios, as Barger’s lit agents at the Carol Mann Agency try to rev up the book crowd. Scott, who last directed “Enemy of the State,” was the first filmmaker approached by the Barger camp, and signed on earlier this week.
Barger is one of the original leatherjacketed Born To Be Wild guys, forming the Oakland chapter of the Angels in 1957. Though the first actual hatching of the Angels took place in San Bernardino 10 years earlier, Barger became the symbol for the growth of the Angels during the counterculture days of the ’60s, and was a part of some of the group’s most controversial moments.
That includes the infamous Rolling Stones concert at Altamont in which a concertgoer was stabbed and beaten to death while the Angels worked security, and numerous attempts by authorities to prosecute the Angels for various legal beefs. Some, including a federal prosecution to prove the Angels were a criminal enterprise, were unsuccessful. Others resulted in Barger trading his leather jacket for prison fatigues.
“Sonny’s life story is essentially the story of the club,” said Clapp. “Through his personal charisma and leadership, the Oakland chapter became the mother chapter in the late ’50s and early ’60s of the club, which has expanded to 100 chapters in 13 countries.”
Being the leader of a controversial biker group got Barger into plenty of legal scrapes, Clapp said. “They liked to get together and party hard. They collided with law enforcement early on in the ’60s.”
Barger and Clapp were approached by Myron, and both decided it was time for the rebel to try the big screen. “It’s a great untold story of who these guys really are,” said Myron. “These are people who chose to be different and rebellious, but lived their lives with a specific code that revolved around laying down your life for a fellow Angel.”
Myron brought in Scott Free senior veep Chris Dorr, who made the intro to Scott. CAA is repping the helmer.
FROM PROVIDENCE TO GOTHAM: Melina Kanakaredes, whose rookie drama series “Providence” has drawn the highest ratings for an NBC drama since “ER,” will play the female lead in “15 Minutes,” the John Herzfeld-directed drama for New Line that stars Robert De Niro and Ed Burns.
Kanakaredes just signed and has begun rehearsals to play a high powered TV investigative reporter who becomes the love interest of De Niro, who plays a decorated cop who teams with a fire marshal (Burns), to track down some crazies who are committing murder in search of their proverbial 15 minutes of fame.
Kanakaredes, last seen on the bigscreen in “Rounders,” will do the role before returning for the second season of the hit series. She was repped by Gersh Agency’s Bill Butler and Mark Schumacher.
LANGE LANDS ‘KILROY’ LEAD: Actor Niklaus Lange has landed the title role in the George Clooney-created series “Kilroy,” and found out in a manner dramatic enough to make a possible plotline for the series.
“Kilroy” is a Warner Bros.-produced comedy for HBO that focuses on an aspiring actor who gets bit parts on real shows. Clooney will exec produce the pilot through his Maysville Pictures, and cowrote the pilot with Matt Adler. Lange is a lot like the title character, having played the lead in the indie film “Defying Gravity” and doing roles in series and indie films while supplementing his income waiting tables.
Lange was among a bunch of actors Clooney auditioned for “Kilroy,” and that night, after the audition, Lange went back to his waiter job at the L.A. eatery Atlantic. Clooney came in and when Lange walked up to the table, Clooney told him, “Hey, you’re my Kilroy.”
Lange is a waiter no longer, and is now filming a pilot in which his character meets Pamela Anderson and gets a bit part on “VIP.” He’s agented by Metropolitan and managed by Misty D’Amore of Integrity Management.
MCCORMACK GRACES INDIE: Eric McCormack of “Will & Grace” will star in the indie film “Old Hats” for Mulberry Films. Directed by Arnie Olson and produced by William Vince, the film features McCormack as the administrator of a retirement home who’s blackmailed into providing a final road trip to two residents played by Ossie Davis and James Whitmore.
McCormack’s also playing Mel Ferrer in the Audrey Hepburn biopic for ABC starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and “Free Enterprise,” the Regent Ent. distribbed comedy he shot with William Shatner, will premiere in Cannes this May. That film, in which McCormack plays a trekkie who meets Shatner, just got a record deal with Network Records.
The soundtrack, said producer Dan Bates, will feature Shatner’s rap song “No Tears for Caesar,” which Shatner performed with The Rated R, who once rapped with Tupac Shakur.
McCormack’s repped by Endeavor and manager Joan Hyler.