Col wrapped in '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 is also 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 which aimed to boost the magazine circulation of sponsor Street & Smith. The character was actually the moniker for the announcer, and listeners began demanding stories based on the name.

Walter B. Gibson created the character, writing the adventures of a crime-fighter 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 crime-fighter's influence can be seen in Raimi's 1990 movie, "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," Raimi said. He 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. And Columbia is relishing having Raimi's cinematic fingers on another action hero.

"We're thrilled to be re-teaming with Sam as he brings another legendary comic book character to a new generation of fans," Columbia president of production Matt Tolmach said. "This property is in the perfect hands."

Said Uslan: "My first comic-book writing gig in the '70s was writing for DC's 'Shadow' comics. I had the chance to spend time with Walter Gibson and derive my understanding of the character directly from the original source himself. Working with Sam, Josh and the entire team at Columbia, I know I am working with the Shadow dream team."

CBM/Branded's F.J. DeSanto will co-produce the film.

Sam Dickerman is overseeing development of the movie for Columbia Pictures.

Raimi is repped by CAA.

Endeavor-repped Farahani's credits include "Max Payne," a video game adaptation for 20th Century Fox.
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