Gianni Nunnari’s Hollywood Gang has acquired rights to Hell From the Heavens: The Epic Story of the USS Laffey and World War II’s Greatest Kamikaze Attack, a book by John Wukovits that is being adapted by screenwriter Rosalind Ross and developed as a feature film by the Se7en and The Departed producer. The pic has the working title Kamikaze.
Ross and boyfriend Mel Gibson recently toured the ship where it is on display at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in South Carolina. Gibson, Oscar-nominated this year for Best Director for Hacksaw Ridge, is not attached to the project, but no director or cast has been set yet as this is early days.
The destroyer USS Laffey already had seen action on D-Day at Normandy and later at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines before it came under attack on April 16, 1945, at Okinawa. In what was considered one of the biggest kamikaze air assaults in history, 32 men died and 71 were wounded from 80 minutes of continuous attacks, four direct bomb hits and six kamikaze planes crashing into the ship, setting it on fire. Under the leadership of Captain Frederick Julian Becton, the crew fought on and ultimately won the day. It was later nicknamed “The Ship That Would Not Die.”
Nunnari and Hollywood Gang’s Shannon Gaulding are aboard as producers.
“We must tell the story of the brave men of the Laffey,” Nunnari said.”The kamikaze planes, the bombs — they kept coming and coming, But these men, with courage and sacrifice, they kept their ship afloat. And for me, Rosalind Ross was the obvious choice for the job; she has the kind of ferocious and character-driven approach that I love.”
Nunnari is developing Robotech for Columbia, and the next 300 installment and the Gavin O’Connor-helmed Victory both at Warner Bros. His most recent producing credits include MGM’s The Domestics and the Crackle/Amazon series Start Up.
Ross is repped by WME, Heroes and Villains Entertainment and Jackoway Tyerman.