The Vine: Depp casing Mann's 'Public' heist

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Johnny Depp doesn't shy away from blood in the upcoming "Sweeney Todd," for which he's being touted as a major Oscar contender, and he might again find himself awash in blood if he opts to join up with producer-director Michael Mann for a film about the Depression-era crime wave.

Mann has long been interested in mounting a screen adaptation of Brian Burrough's nonfiction book "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34" for Universal; at one point, Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to the project, but DiCaprio is headed into Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island."

But Mann -- who has considered taking the helm of Columbia's spy thriller "Edwin A. Salt" but has not committed to that project because he believes it needs a rewrite -- has an open slot.

As for Depp, he was to have starred in Warner/Initial Entertainment's "Shantaram" followed by Warner Independent's "The Rum Diaries," but both of those projects were postponed last month, leaving the star with an opening in his schedule.

So Depp and Mann are sitting down this week to discuss the possibility of joining forces; Depp is said to be eyeing the role of bank robber John Dillinger. Along with Mann, Kevin Misher is on board as producer; Robert De Niro and his partner Jane Rosenthal, who originally optioned the book, have been involved as exec producers; and the studio is looking at a March start in Chicago if all the elements come together.
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