Denzel, Crowe, and Sir Ridley go "Gangster"

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Looks like Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington might soon be having a reunion, and no it's not a sequel to "Virtuosity." Ridley Scott is in talks to direct the pair in "American Gangster," the story of a 70s-era drug lord who imported his wares through decidedly unpleasant means.

Says Variety: "Ridley Scott is in talks to direct Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington in the Brian Grazer-produced drama that had its plug pulled in late 2004 by Universal. The hope is to shoot this summer.

U brass will decide this week whether to finance or co-finance the revamped '70s crime drama, or possibly let it go. Two other studios are circling the project if U backs down.

The drama has a checkered past. In late 2004, Antoine Fuqua was a month from starting production in Harlem with Washington and Benicio Del Toro when U Pictures chairman Stacey Snider canceled the film over fear the budget would cross $100 million. Pay-or-play deals with Washington and Del Toro got settled, and the studio wrote off more than $20 million.

Imagine's Grazer, who developed the drama from a New York magazine article by Mark Jacobson, kept trying. "Hotel Rwanda" writer-director Terry George was brought on to rework Steve Zaillian's script and rein in the budget. Scott is working with George's draft.

Story revolves around a Harlem heroin kingpin who figured out a way to smuggle heroin in the coffins of American soldiers returning from the Vietnam War."

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