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On 'Abduction,' Taylor Lautner could be a boy in the hood

March 9, 2010 |  6:35 pm

EXCLUSIVE: How much clout does Taylor Lautner have right now? So much clout that even the filmmaker behind the urban classic "Boyz 'n the Hood" may end up working with him.

Laut Sources say that John Singleton, the Oscar-nominated writer and director behind that 1991 hit, is in the lead position to grab the director job on "Abduction," a story about a teen disconnected from his parents that evolves into a "Bourne"-like man-on-the-run thriller. Singleton, also a producer on "Hustle & Flow," could bring -- how to put this? -- an edgy flair that one wouldn't necessarily expect from a Lautner vehicle.

Singleton tops a list that also includes Gary Fleder, the director of the cult hit "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" and most recently the filmmaker behind the race-tinged sports drama "The Express." There's also a veteran (and, frankly, not always critically well-regarded) Hollywood hand in the mix; he's further back in the race, so we'll refrain from mentioning him unless he picks up steam.

"Abduction" was recently bought for nearly $1 million by Lionsgate in a rare sale of a spec script (i.e. a script that was written without any upfront studio commitment or commission) from newcomer Shawn Christensen. The story, say people familiar with the project, involves a teenager who comes across his baby picture in a missing-persons database and sets out on a quest to find the truth; government agents, shadowy figures and other thriller staples are involved.

Lautner, who's lately booked more gigs than the Rolling Stones, has a rare ability to get a studio to pay attention -- any project with his name on it moves forward a lot faster than it otherwise would. He's got momentum for "Stretch Armstrong" at Universal, with a director race heating up on that movie (Rob Letterman is in the lead spot), and "Abduction" could shoot as early as this summer.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart in "New Moon." Credit: Summit Entertainment