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Attica! Attica! Attica!

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | February 16, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | February 16, 2010 |

If I were to compile a list of great directors who have undergone mid-career crash and burns, Doug Liman would have to be somewhere near the top — how do you follow up Swingers, Go, The Bourne Identity and even Mr. and Mrs. Smith with … Jumper, which is the only film that Liman has made in half a decade (and believe it or not, there’s a Jumper sequel in development)? It seems that, in the interim, Liman has been too busy developing lousy (“Knight Rider 2.0”) or unsuccessful (“Heist”) television shows to put a lot of effort into directing.

That may change soon — Liman already has a film, Fair Game (about the Valerie Plame ordeal) in the can, with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts in the leads (and I’m surprised we haven’t seen a trailer yet). Next up, Liman is planning to tackle the Attica prison riots. Liman’s got himself a solid screenwriter in tow, too.

Geoffrey Fletcher, who penned the screenplay for Precious, will be scripting Attica, which will cover the bloodiest prison riot in U.S history, a riot that went on for several days and resulted in the deaths of 39 people. The shame of it is, those riots basically erupted over the lack of showers and toilet paper.

It’s an interesting story — one interesting enough to inspire three movies already (I believe they were television movies), though this one will be more personal. Doug Liman’s father, Arthur, was the young lawyer who ran the investigation of the riots. According to Doug, “The people whose job it was to prosecute the crimes wanted my father to reveal who had admitted to what. When my father refused, they threatened to hold him in contempt of court and throw him in jail.”

So, a personal take, then? Maybe that will be what reignites Liman’s dormant talent, although word is, his father wasn’t exactly approving of his son’s career choice. Maybe this is the project that Dougy is using to finally win his Daddy’s approval.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.