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July 2006


Description: Rapper T.I, along with Carla Gugino RZA and John Ortiz cast in Denzel Washington/ Russell Crowe film.

August 2, 2006

Blackfilm.com has learned that rapper T.I (ATL) , John Ortiz (Miami Vice), RZA(Wu-Tang) and Carla Gugino (Sin City) have joined the cast of "American Gangster", which already stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. With Brian Grazer producing, Ridley Scott is directing the picture after Antoine Fuqua left the project a few years ago. "American Gangster" is the story of a 70s-era drug lord who imported his wares through decidedly unpleasant means. T.I will be playing Denzel's nephew in the film.

According to Variety, the drama has a checkered past. In late 2004, Antoine Fuqua was a month from starting production in Harlem with Washington and Benecio 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.

"American Gangster" is a biopic of Harlem heroin kingpin Frank Lucas. Lucas grew up in rural, segregated North Carolina. In the early 1970s, he became the biggest heroin dealer in Harlem with a smuggling scheme that imported the stuff out of Southeast Asia in the caskets of Vietnam soldiers. The film centers on narcotics lawman Richie Roberts\' struggle to bring down Lucas, whose flamboyant style earned him the street name \"Superfly.\" Lucas goes on to help Roberts hunt down dirty cops and overseas connections.



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