It was announced today that Cross Creek Productions (financiers and producers of Black Swan), Danny DeVito (yeah that Danny DeVito), and his longtime producer partner Michael Shamberg, are getting together to finance and produce the long-in-gestation film version of Lawrence Block’s novel A Walk Among The Tombstones, to be directed by D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) .
The book is one of several detective novels by Block centered around alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder who spends his few sober days doing favors for friends which, of course, always leads up to danger and murder.
In Tombstones, the plot deals with a pair of guys who kidnap the girlfriends and wives of drug dealers for ransom but later kill them. Eventually, the kidnappers take hostage of the daughter of a Russian mob dealer, and things really get desperate and ugly.
The project has been kicking around Hollywood for over a decade. At one time Harrison Ford (who is actually perfect for the part – imagine his Blade Runner character Rick Deckard 30 years older) was going to do it Universal, but the project fell through (however I could also easily see Sly Stallone or Bruce Willis in the part). It’s gone through several directors since then and I read the script a few years ago when a director friend of mine, who was briefly attached to it, sent me a copy.
It’s a really damn good, cracking and riveting script, filled with great characterization and plenty of suspenseful sequences. But also very interesting was the role of TJ in the script, who’s a young, street-wise teenager who teams up with Scudder to solve the case.
But this is no typical black sidekick role. TJ is a solidly developed, multi-dimensional and interesting character; a little geeky with plenty of sharp wit and intelligence, who’s Scudder’s equal in every way. In fact he’s actually the hero in the script, saving the kidnapped Russian woman at the end, in a really suspenseful climax (and he lives to see end the too!). It would be an absolutely terrific part for a young, upcoming black actor.
THAT IS…. in the script version I read. Years have passed, and it’s possible that a lot of rewrites and revisions could have been done on the script since then.
By the time the film comes out, the TJ role could be greatly diminished, horribly stereotyped and buffoonish. Hell they could give the part to Tracy Morgan… if you catch my drift.
However, since the script was written by Scott Frank, who’s one of Hollywood’s better and most respected screenwriters, I’m assuming he hasn’t allowed anyone to change his script and has kept its integrity.
I hope so; but, as you know in Hollywood, ya’ never know. We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed and see what happens.