Brett Ratner takes 'Communist' option

Rat Entertainment options Charles Robert Jenkins memoir

NEW YORK -- Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment has optioned the feature film rights to the novel "The Reluctant Communist" by Charles Robert Jenkins with Ratner eyeing director duties on the project.

Ross Katz, writer and director for HBO's "Taking Chance," is adapting the memoir into a screenplay, and John Cheng, head of feature development for Rat, will executive produce. There is currently no studio attached to the project.

"The Reluctant Communist" tells the true story of Robert Jenkins, a U.S. soldier who deserted his post in South Korea and surrendered to communist North Korea in 1965. Instead of getting him back to the U.S., the move left him held in North Korea for close to 40 years. He became a reluctant celebrity as the North Korean government used him as the "American villain" in its propaganda films.

"The story is heartbreakingly sad, yet funny and romantic all at the same time," said Cheng. "It has so many of the elements you look for in a great film."

Rat Entertainment is currently also developing a feature film version of "Hong Kong Phooey" with Alcon Entertainment, a remake of "The Last American Virgin" with Millennium Films and "True Crimes" with Universal Focus Features.

The company said Ratner is in pre-production with a November start date on "Tower Heist" for Universal and Imagine Entertainment, starring Ben Stiller.