John Grisham's The Racketeer Finds A Screenwriter

By Nick Venable 2013-10-09 22:55:09discussion comments
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From 1993-2004, it seemed like author John Grisham couldnít write down a list of his favorite fruits without someone trying to turn it in to a movie. Since then, Hollywood hasnít seen any of Grishamís novels put to screen, though there have been many attempts. Now Fox2000 is trying to end the drought, as Deadline reports that the studio is moving forward with their planned adaptation of Grishamís bestselling legal thriller (of course) The Racketeer, published last year by Doubleday, and theyíve hired screenwriter Frank Baldwin to do the adapting.

There wasnít a lot of downtime for this project, as it was back in February when the company had initially attracted Safe House director Daniel Espinosa to direct it. But when those negotiations hit a snag and Espinosa moved on, the project was left alone. Until now.

If Baldwinís name isnít familiar to you, donít worry. This would be his first screenplay to make it through production, unless one of his others got put into production very quickly. He wrote two highly touted scripts some years back that made the Black List. One of them, The Art of Making Money, was once supposed to be a DJ Caruso project with Chris Pine starring, but that hasnít seen any positive updates in years. Baldwin also wrote When Corruption was King, an adaptation of former Mob attorney Robert Cooleyís memoir, which had Mark Wahlberg attached at one point.

The Racketeer takes place after the murder of Judge Raymond Fawcett, only the fifth federal judge to be murdered in U.S. history. He and his secretaryís bodies are found in a remote lakeside cabin with no evidence to point police in the right direction towards the killer. One man, however, named Malcolm Bannister, knows who killed the judge, and even knows what the motive was. The problem is Bannister is currently locked up in a federal prison in Maryland. But for the right price, he just might share his information.

I havenít read a Grisham book in many years, so I canít speak to the quality of the novel personally, but Iím intrigued by the story, and itís earned quite a few positive blurbs. Hopefully a decent director grabs the reins and pulls in a great lead. I still have nightmares about Chris OíDonnellís presence in The Chamber.

As far as Grisham adaptations go, I donít think anything will beat the powerfully melodramatic A Time to Kill from 1996 (certainly failing in that department are 2004ís Christmas With the Kranks or The Firmís shortened series run on NBC). But Iím optimistic that The Racketeer might just have the legally bound suspense that hasnít had a strong presence in recent films. Check out the bookís launch trailer below to get you a little more interested.

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