EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Billy Ray to script Sinatra, the film Martin Scorsese will direct about the life of singer-actor Frank Sinatra. The film will be produced by Scott Rudin, Mandalay’s Peter Guber and Cathy Schulman, Scorsese’s Sikelia and the iconic singer’s daughter, Tina Sinatra. It was Guber and Schulman who brought in the project to the studio after they secured life and music rights from Frank Sinatra Enterprises, which is a joint venture of the estate of Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Warner Music Group. Phil Alden Robinson had originally been hired as the writer.
I take this as a good sign that Scorsese is getting serious about bringing to life the seminal singer of the 20th Century, who parlayed that golden voice into a trip from New Jersey to Hollywood. Where he had the world on a string as he romanced the most beautiful women in town, and cut a swath with his Rat Pack pals and made films that included The Manchurian Candidate, From Here To Eternity and Pal Joey.
Scorsese is currently directing Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role in Red Granite-funded The Wolf Of Wall Street, which also stars Jonah Hill, Jon Favreau, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin and Kyle Chandler. Scorsese hasn’t committed to his next film, and this now stands tall with several he has been developing. They include an adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel Silence, as well as a mob film re-team with Robert De Niro in The Irishman, a Steve Zaillian-scripted adaptation of the Charles Brandt book I Heard You Paint Houses.
This comes at a prolific time for Ray. Besides The Hunger Games, Ray has scripted to direct a remake of The Secret in Their Eyes, an untitled project with J.J. Abrams, The Thin Man, the Joe Roth-produced Pan at Sony, and the recently completed Captain Phillips, the Paul Greengrass-directed Somali pirate drama for Sony Pictures that stars Tom Hanks. He’s repped by CAA and Management 360.
Now, the question still remains, who can play Frank Sinatra in the definitive biopic, as well as presumably everyone from Ava Gardner, Mia Farrow, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Marilyn Monroe and JFK?