EXCLUSIVE: It's the hellishly hot dog days of summer, but over at Paramount Pictures, they're still working.
We've just confirmed that Paramount-based producer Kevin Misher, who most recently produced "The Interpreter" for Universal, has inked a deal with red hot indie director Dito Montiel to write and direct "Running," a drama set in the world of New York street basketball and illegal sports betting.
'Illegal' and 'New York' are topics Montiel knows a fair amount about: His gritty, autobiographical "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" won both the Special Jury Prize and the Director's Award at the Sundance Film festival this year. Set in Astoria, Queens during the 1980s, "Saints" chronicles how most of Dito's pals wound up dead, on drugs or in prison, and how he avoid the same fate under the protection of local "saints."
The New York Times ' David Carr described Montiel with especially prescient prose earlier this month, "Lots of kids who came up hard in New York think they have a song in them. And others a book. And there are even those who are bold enough to think the life they have lived belongs on a big screen. Dito Montiel, a guy from Astoria, Queens, pulled off the trifecta..."
Carr's use of a betting metaphor was paticularly on-the-money: Now, the 35 year old "Sundance kid" Montiel -- a one time Calvin Klein underwear model turned front man for the downtown New York rock outfit Gutterboy -- will rewrite and direct Robert Munich's original script for "Running." Its plot is described by one insider as a modern day "Color of Money," wherein an old gambling pro teaches his young protege the tricks of running numbers.
"Running" is a project that's quickly coming together at Paramount, and we'll keep you posted on its progress as a cast coalesces. After all, on the ThinkFilm-distributed "Saints," Montiel cobbled together a surprisingly impressive list of veteran actors including Robert Downey, Jr. and Rosario Dawson, as well as old pros like Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest; we're betting that "Running" will be no different.