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Roth driving to ‘Freedomland’

Pic will shoot in New York in late spring

Revolution Studios is negotiating with Paramount to acquire “Freedomland,” based on Richard Price’s bestselling novel, for Revolution topper Joe Roth to direct.

Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson are in talks to star.

“Freedomland” was put in turnaround by Paramount. Scott Rudin Prods., which had been developing the project at Par, will remain attached as producer. Moore was attached when the project was at Par, but her deal was voided when it went into turnaround.

Gig would mark a change of pace for Roth, more known for comedies like “America’s Sweethearts” and the upcoming “Christmas With the Kranks.”

The gritty “Freedomland” deals with the aftermath of a carjacking that becomes a racially charged media sensation. Price has adapted his book into a screenplay.

“Freedomland” also is a switch from Revolution’s usual slate of comedies and actioners.

“We’ve been doing well enough at the box office, and it’s time to do a Revolution movie like ‘Black Hawk Down,’ ” Roth said. “It seemed like a great time to do a very serious movie about guilt and survival.”

Jackson appeared in both of Revolution’s “XXX” pics, and Moore starred in the studio’s recent “The Forgotten.”

Roth also has a history with both Rudin and Price.

“We were all very young,” said Roth. “I worked with Scott at Disney when he produced ‘Ransom’ and ‘A Civil Action.’ ”

Price wrote a draft of “Streets of Gold,” the 1986 pic that was Roth’s directing bow.

” ‘Freedomland’ is my favorite Richard Price book,” Roth said. “I’ve known him his entire writing career, and I think it’s his best screenplay.”

Pic will shoot in New York in late spring. Revolution hopes to release it by the end of 2005.

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