Will Smith will take on the role of New York City crime boss Nicky Barnes in his next Netflix film The Council. The project will re-team Smith with Concussion helmer Peter Landesman, who wrote the screenplay for the new film and will executive produce. Smith and partner James Lassiter are producing the pic for Westbrook Inc.’s Overbrook Entertainment along with Jackson Pictures’ Matt Jackson and Jason Essex for Anonymous Nobodies.
Landesman’s script tells the never-before-told story of a crime syndicate consisting of seven African-American men who ruled Harlem in the 1970s and early ’80s. No ordinary crime syndicate – the men dreamed of a self-sufficient and self-policing African American city-state, funded by revolutionizing the drug game. The movie centers on the Shakespearean court intrigue between The Council’s king, Nicky Barnes, dubbed “Mr. Untouchable” by the New York Times, and all the different members as one unlikely rising protégé emerges.
Barnes, born Leroy Nicholas Barnes, was active during the 1970s leading an international drug trafficking ring, in partnership with the Italian-American mafia. He was arrested in 1978 and sentenced to life imprisonment, eventually becoming a federal informant, which led to the demise of The Council. Barnes died from cancer in 2012, however, his death was recently made known due to him being under witness protection.
Landesman will serve as an executive producer with Jackson Pictures’ Joanne Lee and David Lee from Anonymous Nobodies.
Smith, most recently seen on the big screen as Genie in Disney’s live-action Aladdin remake, has Fox’s Spies in Disguise animation, the Ang Lee-directed Gemini Man at Paramount, and Sony’s Bad Boys For Life sequel upcoming.
Ryan Goodell of Morris Yorn negotiated on behalf of Essex, while CAA and Andrew Galker from Jackoway Austen negotiated on behalf of Landesman.
Overbrook is repped by CAA and Sloan, Offer. Jackson Pictures is with CAA and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.