One of Warner Bros. highest priority projects of late is the true life pic “Tales From The Gangster Squad.” They’ve courted a number of candidates for the gig including Ben Affleck and Darren Aronofsky with names like Paul Greengrass, Francis Lawrence, Martin Campbell and Greg Berlanti said to be on the studio’s short-list. Last we heard, “Crazy Heart” helmer Scott Cooper, Brazilian director of “Elite Squad” Jose Padilha and “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer were in contention and now one has risen to the top.
Deadline reports that Ruben Fleischer is in negotiations to direct the film and it’s an exciting pick for the project. The film is based on a series of articles in the L.A. Times by Paul Lieberman and was picked up soon after it’s publication in 2008 by Warner Bros. who, in turn, hired former L.A. cop turned novelist Will Beall to adapt. The major focus of Lieberman’s article was a specialized L.A.P.D. unit set up in the ’40s to fight the growing influence of the East Coast Mafia, namely that from infamous gangster Mickey Cohen, a mogul who started as muscle for Al Capone in Chicago.
If/when Fleischer comes aboard it most likely means he won’t be directing “Zombieland 2” next. The script on that one is apparently complete with celebrity cameo rumors surfacing over the Thanksgiving weekend, but frankly, we’re more excited by Fleischer dipping his feet in a different genre. He clearly knows how to direct action, and is certainly comfortable within genre elements, so to see him apply those skills to a straight ahead period gangster tale sounds very promising.
But if for whatever reason it doesn’t come though, he has no shortage of projects to turn to including a script penned by Mike White (”School Of Rock,” “Nacho Libre”) called “Babe In The Woods” and an untitled buddy cop movie written by Mike Arnold and Chris Poole. But for now, Fleischer is currently in post-production on his follow-up feature, “30 Minutes Or Less” which stars Danny McBride and Nick Swardson and will hit theaters next year.