Universal Pictures and director Terry George are courting Don Cheadle to star in “American Gangster” for Imagine. An offer won’t be made to Cheadle for “Gangster” until George completes the script, but the studio and producer Brian Grazer want the actor to play Frank Lucas, the movie’s central figure. Lucas was a Harlem heroin kingpin in the 1970s who, after he was brought to justice, helped end the corruption and legal loopholes that allowed him to import the drug from Southeast Asia. ‘Gangster’ nearly went into production with Denzel Washington in the role, but the project was halted over budget concerns. George was hired in March to rework Steve Zaillian’s script to a more manageable budget.