Leonardo DiCaprio to star in 'Atari'

Tale about the godfather of video game industry

Leonardo DiCaprio has more fake IDs than Fletch.

The ubiquitous actor-producer has just become attached to star in "Atari," a pitch that writers Brian Hecker and Craig Sherman sold to Paramount on Friday about the godfather of the video game industry, Nolan Bushnell. DiCaprio's Appian Way shingle is producing the biopic, which the filmmakers hope will play with elements from "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "Tucker."

Bushnell was an engineering student, puzzle-lover and game enthusiast (chess, Go, early computer games) who went from fixing broken pinball machines to launching Atari Corp., a video game manufacturer, in the early '70s. Its first product was a little game called Pong that transfixed kids in suburban rec rooms across the country and led to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of video game sales. Within a few years, he sold the company to Warner Communications for $28 million.

During the next three decades, Bushnell started many other tech ventures and also created Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theaters.

Bushnell is only the latest real-life personality in which DiCaprio has found grist for his creative mill. The Oscar-nominated actor has inhabited author Tobias Wolff ("This Boy's Life"), poets Jim Carroll ("The Basketball Diaries") and Arthur Rimbaud ("Total Eclipse"), master counterfeiter Frank Abagnale Jr. ("Catch Me If You Can") and aviator-recluse Howard Hughes ("The Aviator"). He's also attached to films in development about flashy Wall Street felon Jordan Belfort and James Bond creator Ian Fleming.

Hecker and Sherman write together and independently. Hecker wrote and directed the Tribeca comedy "Bart Got a Room," which stars William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines, while Sherman wrote a biopic screenplay of 1920s college football coach Pop Warner. The duo are repped by Original Artists.
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