James Franco certainly sets his sights on difficult novels to adapt. His first two announced projects were Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.

Neither of those is exactly an easy task. And while As I Lay Dying is moving forward, Blood Meridian never went anywhere. But that hasn’t stopped Franco from trying again with another big novel. Now he says he’s setting up a deal to make a film based on James Ellroy‘s American Tabloid, the first novel in Ellroy’s Underworld USA trilogy, which is his fictionalized, violent and profane version of the middle twentieth century. Read More »

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James Ellroy contributed to last year’s rather underseen Rampart, and fortunately for those who value his work, there are other adaptations of his novels brewing today. Ellroy is a continued object of desire for producers and directors, as his novels are killer depictions of LA and the occasionally vicious socio-political landscape of the US in general, and his characters are among the most sharply drawn in crime fiction.

Some of those characters, such as Dudley Smith, Ed Exley, and Buzz Meeks, were seen in LA Confidential (a tremendous book and film) and The Black Dahlia (a tremendous book, not so much on film). Those two novels are connected to White Jazz, which Joe Carnahan has wanted to film for years, and The Big Nowhere, which I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino is now signed to make. That announcement came down a few days back, and I mention it mostly because another Ellroy novel is now in development.

The author’s latest novel, Blood’s a Rover, has been opined by VS Entertainment for a film treatment. That’s great news, as more Ellroy is always welcome in my book, but it’s also a strange move as the novel is the third in a trilogy. More info follows. Read More »

From the moment I heard about Rampart the movie placed high on my ‘must-see’ list. The Messenger director Oren Moverman reunites with Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster to tell a story about the LAPD’s disgraced Rampart division, with a script originally written by LA crime master James Ellroy. Ice Cube is a good cop and Ned Beatty is in the movie, as are Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi.

The movie has hit some festivals and I’m already hearing so much about how good Harrelson is in the film that I’ve just had to shut down all of the chatter until I get a chance to see the film. Rampart is scheduled for a limited Oscar-qualifying run in New York and LA starting next week, but most of us won’t get a chance to see it until January 2012.

There is a trailer right now, however, so you can get a taste of Harrelson’s performance as “the most corrupt cop you’ve ever seen on screen.” Watch it below. Read More »

Ten years ago, iconic LA crime novelist James Ellroy was signed with Paramount to write his first original screenplay, called 77. That script was eventually completed by someone else, but it has been kicking around for some time. And now Russell Crowe — who made the leap to leading man status in part thanks to his role in the James Ellroy adaptation L.A. Confidential — is looking to star in the film. He also reportedly wants to make it his directorial debut. Read More »

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I was thrilled a couple weeks ago to see that Oren Moverman will rewrite and direct Rampart, based on a story and script by James Ellroy. The film covers the scandal that engulfed the Rampart Division of the LAPD in the ’90s and now, perhaps appropriately, Ice Cube is in the cast. The guy went from being a full-on anti-authority spokesman to reformed family man and comedy filmmaker, and now he’s going back to the subject of crooked cops.

The irony is that Cube will play a cop in the film — he’s the homicide detective that investigates a dirty Rampart cop played by Woody Harrelson. Ben Foster is in the film, as well, but we don’t yet know his part. [Deadline]

After the break, Bryce Dallas Howard joins Viola Davis in The Help and Paul Reubens gets blue. Read More »

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Oren Moverman‘s debut feature, The Messenger, was an excellent film. I’ve been eagerly awaiting final word on what his follow-ups might be. He’s working on The Other Side of the Looking Glass now, for one. Today there’s indication that, rather than making a Kurt Cobain biopic, he could make an LA cop drama called Rampart, based on a James Ellroy script. Read More »

White Jazz Casting

White JazzThe characters of Junior Stemmons and Glenda Bledsoe have been cast in Joe Carnahan’s upcoming adaptation of James Ellroy’s White Jazz. So who will be playing Stemmons and Bledsoe? Carnahan won’t say.

“I cant reveal their names but rest assured, the choices will shock and amaze: Pissing off some while pleasing many more,” says Carnahan. “I can tell you one of the actors I worked with in Smokin’ Aces will be playing whackjob deviant kid cop Junior Stemmons.”

So anyone willing to place some guesses on which Smokin’ Aces alumni will be joining George Clooney?

Set in late 1950s Los Angeles, White Jazz tells the story of vice cop Dave Klein (Clooney). When he senses he’s being set up by the police commissioner, he sets out to expose a decades-old network of corruption engineered by the LAPD. Jason Bateman and Peter Berg are also attached to the production. The film will hit theaters in 2009.

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