Relativity Buys NESS/CAPONE to Rival Warner Bros’ Al Capone Project CICERO

     April 27, 2011


We are approaching the 25-year anniversary of The Untouchables, which is just enough time to breed a new generation of moviegoers for whom Kevin Costner and Robert De Niro aren’t necessarily the definitive on-screen embodiment of Eliot Ness and Al Capone.  You’re in luck, generation that I sheepishly belong to.  Relativity and Warner Bros. are both developing Capone-centric projects to address this hole in your life.

Relativity Media head Ryan Kavanaugh acquired Ness/Capone, a Black List script by Grant Pierce Myers with a less reverential approach to Ness’ moral fiber than Costner’s performance.  Relativity is one of three studios engaged in the Snow White free-for-all right now, and Kavanaugh has to be encouraged his entry, The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, hits theaters first in June 2012.  Such confidence is evident in the Ness/Capone buy, Relativity’s challenge to Warner Bros  lsjdflksjdflksjdlkfjs.  The latter studio is in development on Cicero, a Capone “origin story” scripted by Walon Green (Law & Order: Criminal Intent).  More on both projects after the jump.

Deadline provides the synopsis for Ness/Capone: al-capone-image

“Ness is a skirt-chasing 26-year old publicity hound who seemed to get an adrenaline charge out of courting danger, kicking in doors, smashing moonshine stores and rubbing it in the noses of Capone and other mobsters. He paraded confiscated bootleg trucks past Capone’s hotel, calling Capone in advance to suggest he look out the window.”

The deals are still being worked out, but Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jeremy Bell, Gianni Nunnari, Jason Felts, and Rene Rigal are all tentatively on board as producers to get the project up and running when the time comes.

WB has briefly hit the pause button on Cicero, though with good reason.  David Yates has shown interest in directing, but his immediate schedule is devoted to polishing and promoting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final chapter in the saga that consumed the last five years and four films on Yates’ resume.

Stephen Graham and the folks over at Boardwalk Empire have produced some terrific material around the early days of Capone, but just enough to service a supporting character: there is room for the movies to own the story.  Now it’s a matter of which studio can get their project in front of cameras first, hopefully recognizing the tradeoff with quality.

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