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Stanley Tucci could mix journalism and baseball

September 23, 2010 |  6:14 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Journalists often turn up in films as supporting characters, but we're rarely the main event (and a good thing, too, given how most of us spend our days). When we do play a central part, it's rarely doing the workaday realities of the job but in more extravagant contexts like crimefighting ("State of Play") or scandal ("Shattered Glass").

A new inspirational drama, though, looks to change that. Stanley Tucci is shopping a movie based on the true story of the vision-impaired sports journalist Ed Lucas. Blinded by an errant line drive while playing baseball at the age of 12, back in 1951, Lucas overcame his handicap to become an award-winning reporter covering the Yankees and the New York baseball scene. (You can see one of his interviews below.)

The script that's being peddled, according to those who've read it, is a biopic with an inspirational undertone;  think "The Soloist" meets "Scent of a Woman." The project's writers, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, are well-known practitioners of the dramatic and dramedic arts. They've written "A League of Their Own," "City Slickers," "Parenthood" and other hits that have been stalking you on cable for several decades. They also have a predilection for sports stories; in addition to "League," the pair wrote "Fever Pitch" and "Tooth Fairy."

Tucci would direct and possibly star in the Lucas film (he also has a production company, Olive Prods., that would come on to produce). The project has been circulating to studios and there's no deal in place as yet. But Tucci probably would do better than most at getting difficult material like this set up, since he's an actor pretty much every studio wants. And with "The Blind Side" exceeding all expectations last year, life-affirming sports stories are in demand.

Tucci has been very savvy about his choices in recent years. He's taken on a number of female-oriented dramedies -- "The Devil Wears Prada," "Julie & Julia," the in-development "Mommy & Me" -- that are commercial plays that still give him enough room to strut his acting stuff. He's also mixing in bigger studio pictures ("Captain America") with quirkier material (the current "Easy A," upcoming banking indie "Margin Call").

The actor hasn't had anything approaching a lead part in a major theatrical feature since -- can this be right? -- 1996's "Big Night," another passion project in which he was involved as a director. May be time to make one happen again.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Stanley Tucci in "Julie & Julia." Credit: Columbia Pictures/Jonathan Wenk


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