Monday, March 24, 2008

Craig Brewer Set to Direct Gang Leader for a Day

Craig Brewer

After taking us on intense journeys into the deep south in both Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, filmmaker Craig Brewer will next take us onto the streets of Chicago and into the lives of the Black Kings. Brewer has been set to adapt the non-fiction book Gang Leader for a Day, written by Columbia University sociology professor Sudhir Venkatesh. Screenwriter Michael Caleo, known most for "The Sopranos" and "Rescue Me", will write the script for this adaptation.

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets recalls the years Venkatesh spent chronicling a crack-dealing gang in Chicago for a research project. He befriended the Black Kings and their leader and was invited to observe close up. Venkatesh found a close-knit group whose corporate culture was much like that of a successful legitimate business. Venkatesh was given the job of calling the shots of the criminal enterprise for a day.

"Gang Leader for a Day is not another voyeuristic look into the supposedly tawdry, disorganized life of the black poor. Venkatesh entered the Chicago gang world at the height of the crack epidemic and what he found was a tightly organized community, held together by friendship and compassion as well as force. I couldn't stop reading, and ended up loving this brave, reckless young scholar, as well as the gang leader J.T., who has to be one of the greatest characters ever to emerge from something that could be called sociological research." By Barbara Ehrenreich via Amazon.com.

Brewer will be teaming again with his producing partner Stephanie Allain and will be directing for Paramount Vantage. As intriguing as the story sounds, I'm worried that they'll over-adapt this into something too stylized. But then again, Brewer has really done a great job with his last two films - Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan. I just hope that Venkatesh is intricately involved in the production so that it maintains the grit and realism that was emphasized in the brief review of the book above.

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

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