‘Dahlia’ blossoms with thesp pair

Famous murder to be pic's backdrop

Director Brian De Palma and thesps Mark Wahlberg and Josh Hartnett are committed to “The Black Dahlia,” an adaptation of the James Ellroy crime novel framed around the infamous Hollywood murder of wannabe actress Elizabeth Short.

Pic marks a reteam between De Palma and “The Untouchables” producer Art Linson, who has set up “The Black Dahlia” financing through a combination of foreign sales by Signature Pictures and an investment from the German film fund Apollo Media.

Linson will produce the pic with Rudy Cohen and Moshe Diamant, who have tried to make a film out of the book for years and once had David Fincher lined up to direct. Josh Friedman wrote the draft of the script that hooked De Palma and the actors.

Ellroy’s late ’40s-set book delved into the gritty themes of L.A. cops and corruption that he later explored in his novel “L.A. Confidential.” Wahlberg and Hartnett will play ex-boxers who become L.A. cops and become involved in a massive manhunt for the killer who tortured and mutilated Short, whose brutal demise shocked the city. The killer was never found, and numerous other books have been written claiming to reveal the culprit.

Like Ellroy’s novel, the movie will use the famous murder as a backdrop. The core of the film is the relationship between the partners as they are exposed to corruption and deceit. They also become rivals for the affection of a woman who’s a dead ringer for the murdered girl.

Wahlberg was last seen in “The Italian Job” and will produce the upcoming HBO pilot “The Entourage,” created by Doug Ellin.

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