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Paramount Picks Up 'Wheeler Dealers'

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Jan 07, 2011 | 12:20pm EST

Will SmithParamount Pictures has acquired a pitch from Michael Lerner called Wheeler Dealers, about a recent real-life munitions contract gone awry. The studio has set the project up at Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment and Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment.

Lerner, a former foreign correspondent for Newsweek and a freelance journalist who covered the war in Afghanistan and the fall of apartheid in South Africa, will also pen the screenplay that will be based on the story of Efraim Diveroli, whose AEY company received a $300 million contract in 2007 to supply ordnance to Afghan security forces. Diveroli pleaded guilty this week to plotting to ship prohibited Chinese ammunition to the war and was sentenced to four years in federal prison.

I'm not sure what to think of this vague premise. Off hand, it sounds a bit like Lord of War, a Nicolas Cage movie that I actually enjoyed very much. As we've seen in recent years, though, any and every film that has anything even remotely to do with the War on Terror/Afghanistan/Iraq/Who knows who else has turned audiences away, which could keep the proposed production in limbo. Even last years Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, barely recouped its production budget despite all of the critical acclaim it received.

Lerner also sold a project to Summit last year titled Game Theory, about a college professor and game theorist who gets sucked into a large-scale global incident, so its obvious that Hollywood brass is taking him seriously. I need to know a bit more about the film before getting hyped about it, but having Will Smith on board certainly won't hurt its prospect of getting made.

Source: Variety

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