Col, Raimi land 'Shadow'

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Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Columbia Pictures and Sam Raimi know.

After a lengthy negotiation, Columbia has acquired the screen rights to the Shadow, the legendary 1930s pulp hero, for a big-screen adaptation to be produced by Raimi and Josh Donen through their Buckaroo Entertainment banner. Michael Uslan also is producing via his Comic Book Movies Llc./Branded Entertainment.

Columbia has set Siavash Farahani to write the screenplay.

The Shadow debuted in 1931 on a CBS radio show that aimed to boost the magazine circulation of sponsor Street & Smith. The character was the moniker for the announcer, but listeners began demanding stories based on the name. Walter B. Gibson created the character, writing the adventures of a crimefighter who skulked in shadows wearing a hat and cape, and who had the power to cloud men's minds.

The Shadow became one of the greatest pulp heroes of the time, and the radio series, which featured a young Orson Welles, spawned the catchphrase "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"

The character proved a merchandising bonanza, was the subject of seminal comic books and influenced an array of pop culture, from Batman to "V for Vendetta."

The character moved to the screen, becoming the hero of several movies in late '30s and '40s, a Columbia cliffhanger serial starring Victor Jory and a couple of TV series in the early days of television.

The Shadow's most recent incarnation was a big-budget 1994 feature from Universal starring Alec Baldwin and directed by Russell Mulcahy. The movie didn't fare well at the boxoffice, quashing a hoped-for franchise.

A Shadow movie has long been a dream project for Raimi, and the crimefighter's influence can be seen in Raimi's 1990 "Darkman."

"I've been a passionate Shadow fan ever since I was a kid and have long dreamed of bringing this character to the screen," said Raimi, who is not attached to direct at this time.

After "Spider-Man 3" opens in May, the future of the Raimi-directed, mega-successful franchise becomes an open question; star Tobey Maguire has not committed to doing more. So Columbia is relishing having Raimi's cinematic fingers on another action hero.

"We're thrilled to be reteaming with Sam as he brings another legendary comic book character to a new generation of fans," Columbia president of production Matt Tolmach said.

CBM/Branded's F.J. DeSanto will co-produce the film. Sam Dickerman is overseeing development for Columbia Pictures.

Raimi is repped by CAA.

Endeavor-repped Farahani's credits include "Max Payne," a video game adaptation for Fox.
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