'Leroy Brown' headed to the big screen

Warren Zide nabs rights to Jim Croce's classic

Thirty-five years ago, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" hit No. 1 on the charts. Now, it might be heading to the big screen.

Producer Warren Zide has picked up the rights to Jim Croce's classic pop song in the hope of turning it into an action-comedy franchise.

The song told the story of Leroy Brown, "the baddest man in the whole damn town ... badder than old King Kong ... and meaner than a junkyard dog." In the song, Brown makes a pass at girl in a bar, then gets beat up for his trouble by her jealous husband.

Croce died in an airplane crash in 1973, just as his career was beginning to take shape.

According to Zide, his uncle tried to secure the rights to the song 25 years ago. When he showed Zide documents of the attempt, Zide cold-called the Croce family, striking up a partnership.

"We've always wanted to do a movie with one of Jim's character songs," said Croce's widow, Ingrid. "The concept is about a good guy who can do no wrong. We just want him and his memory and his music to live on. Most importantly, it sounds as if it's going to be a lot of fun. And Jim liked to have to have fun."

Zide, one of the producers behind the "American Pie" and "Final Destination" movies, will produce via his ParallelZide shingle along with Croce. The project is out to writers.

"I guess a classic song never fades away," Zide said.
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