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Helmer high on drug pic

Carnahan hooked on Wright story

Joe Carnahan will co-write and direct a feature about the life of Will Wright, a high school prodigy who at 17 was the catalyst for a $70 million narcotics empire.

FilmEngine is financing and will produce the film.

Carnahan, who is shooting “Smokin’ Aces” for Universal and Working Title, will team with Joseph F. Alexandre to script the story of Wright, who grew up in Blaine, Wash., and seemed the ideal overachieving teenager: The handsome National Merit Scholar was drafted by the Seattle Mariners. Meanwhile, Wright was caught by feds in a sting operation and revealed to be the mastermind of an international drug ring and money-laundering operation. He served eight years and was released two years ago at age 26.

Wright is cooperating in the project, which FilmEngine bought several years ago, based on a batch of press clips and a copy of Wright’s indictment.

Drama is expected to be a crooked coming-of-age tale in the style of “Catch Me if You Can” and falls in with Carnahan’s “Narc” and the adaptation of the Mark Bowden book “Killing Pablo,” chronicling the life and death of drug kingpin Carlo Escobar that Carnahan scripted and is slated to direct.

FilmEngine’s Tyler Mitchell, Anthony Rhulen and A.J. Dix will produce the Wright tale with Carnahan and his producing partner Michelle Grace. Giovanni Agnelli and Scott Bloom will exec produce through their Agnelli/Bloom banner.

“There is something quintessentially American about Will Wright’s story,” Carnahan said.

FilmEngine just wrapped “Lucky Number Slevin,” a drama it sold to the Weinstein Co. In the can is “The Cleaner,” a comedy that New Line will distribute. A sequel of “The Butterfly Effect” is also in the works.

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