Disney revs ‘Chain’ gang tale

Dish

IN A SIX-FIGURE DEAL, Disney has purchased the Michael Detroit book “Chain Of Evidence” for a film based on the true story of a young female police detective who went right from the police academy in California to undercover in the world of the Hell’s Angels biker gang. She posed as the girlfriend of a tough biker convicted felon who agreed to be a police informer against the biker clan. Rachel Pfeffer will produce the film, which will be scripted by David Chisolm. David Gershenson and James Fitzgerald will exec produce.

The film will tell the story of Victoria Seele, a young, married woman who was the valedictorian of her graduating police academy class. In 1976, the blonde beauty was tapped to team along with a lifetime criminal named Cliff Mowery, who agrees to be an informant in a drug trafficking investigation into biker gangs. She has a fear of motorcycle riding, while he, a muscular, hardened outlaw, loathes cops. What follows is a seven-month ride, with the cop not knowing whether her reluctant partner would turn her in or leave her exposed. Instead, he came to the cop’s aid numerous times to prevent her from being assaulted by the suspects. The case led to a swarm of drug arrests and convictions, with Mowery eventually found dead of a suspicious motorcycle accident.

The pic seems unusual subject matter for Disney, but the studio’s last collaboration with Pfeffer was another fact-based controversial drama, the Steve Zaillian-directed “A Civil Action.” Execs Nina Jacobson, Mark Vahradian and Jeffrey Clifford will supervise the project, which was sold by The Artists Agency’s Mickey Freiberg.

GOOD TIMING: This being the day that embattled Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker has vowed to ride the No. 7 subway train, which he maligned in racist and homophobic statements, what better time for Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer to set up a project built around a character just like Rocker. Billy Devlin has sold a pitch to the studio about a Rockeresque player for the Boston Red Sox who is so hated that he gets death threats on his scheduled trip to Gotham.

Assigned to protect him over a 48-hour period is a cop who’s cynical about everything but his devotion to the New York Yankees, a formula that makes for a mismatched buddy comedy.

It’s Devlin’s second project with Bruckheimer, as he’s also scripting “Odd Man Rush,” which is de-scribed as “Slapshot” meets “The Longest Yard.” Devlin’s rise in the writing ranks — he’s also done projects recently for Lynda Obst and John Wells — was fueled by an earlier career as an actor. In fact, he first met Bruckheimer on the set of “Crimson Tide,” where he had a small role, the first of several in Bruckheimer’s films. Devlin now concentrates on writing full time. He’s repped by CAA and Leverage Management.

VERSATILITY: Jason Statham, the British actor first seen in Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” is getting starmaking opportunities by being flexible. Statham was coveted by John Carpenter for the male lead in “Ghosts of Mars,” with Carpenter asking him to play the role of Desolution Williams, the sole survivor of an interplanetary penal colony who’s the target of a manhunt led by Courtney Love. Screen Gems wanted to bolster the pic’s bankability and got Carpenter instead to give the lead to Ice Cube, but Carpenter gave Statham the next best male role as a member of Love’s macho search team, and wrote a love relationship between them. Statham’s role in Ritchie’s new film also has gotten better, as reshoots and editing have streamlined the characters and established Statham as the main narrator in “Snatch,” the pic which costars Brad Pitt. That pic might also have to display some flexibility. The title is fine in the U.K., but in the U.S., there is serious concern that the title will cause the same kind of anatomi-cal confusion that “Free Willy” did in England. There was a move afoot to call it “Diamonds” here, but that title was spoken for. Statham just signed with ICM’s Jason Barrett and Joe Funicello, and he’s managed by Steve Chasman of Immortal Ent. He’s repped in the U.K. by Dallas Smith of PFD.

T3 SCRIBE’S VICTORY: When Daily Variety first revealed that C-2 had commissioned sequel scripts for third and fourth installments of the long-stalled “Terminator” franchise, it seemed a 100 to 1 shot that Arnold Schwarzenegger would return. Much of the credit goes to Tedi Serafian, the scribe hired by Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna, and whose script drew the star back into his signature role. “It was pretty shock-ing, because it was my first draft,” said Serafian. “He read it, we sat down, he said how much he liked it and gave me some notes, and then he said yes.” When the franchise was reconceived, the idea was to go through with the world war averted in the James Cameron-directed “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Serafian wouldn’t comment on the plot, but said he wrote the sequel with an optimistic eye toward a Schwarzenegger return. “Even though Arnold had said publicly that he would not be involved without Cameron, I wrote it half for him, while leaving open the possibility it would not be him. He asked where were the one liners, and I said they would only work if you said them and they’ll be back in the next draft.” While Serafian hopes to incorporate the star’s notes into the next draft, he’s also looking to latch on to another big franchise-type pic. “Just one of those lines around the block in Westwood kind of films,” he said. Serafian’s repped by WMA and managed by Jeff Field.

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