Billy Bob Thornton joins 'Three Nights' team

Will produce movie based on Buzz Bissinger tale

Billy Bob Thornton will be putting on his producer ballcap.

The Hollywood hyphenate has signed on to produce "Three Nights in August," a scripted baseball tale based on Buzz Bissinger's well-received book.

The nonfiction tome looks at a 2003 series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, taking the readers into the mind and dugout of Cards skipper Tony LaRussa.

Thornton, known to be a vocal Cardinals fan, will join Red Bird Cinema managing director John Loar in producing the picture. Writer-actor Kevin Pollak, LaRussa and Bissinger will exec produce.

Thornton is known primarily as an actor and director, though he did produce one pic, the Tex-Mex romance "All the Pretty Horses," which he also directed. But he will take on a hands-on approach here, Loar said, and is now meeting with writers and directors.

There's also a possibility he could take a role in the picture, but it likely won't be the LaRussa part, Loar said.

While baseball projects like "Moneyball" have had a rough time in Hollywood of late -- and this project in particular takes what is quite literally an inside-baseball approach -- producers say they think "August" offers a refreshing take on the subject.

"There are a lot of baseball movies out there, and a lot of them are based on the won-loss component," Loar said. "What this does is go inside the day-to-day happenings of the locker-room and how a manager thinks about all the decisions he has to make. It's going to be challenging, but Billy Bob has a good handle on it."

Loar also said he was hopeful that if the appropriate writer and director were brought on board, the project could shoot as early as next year.

The All-Star game is set for Tuesday night in St. Louis, where Loar and Thornton made the announcement.

Red Bird Cinema -- in which Loar, LaRussa, Pollak and Greg McCoy are principals -- is concentrating on a number of sports dramas, including a biopic about the life of Sugar Ray Leonard.
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