Levinson, scribe take noir 'Train'


Barry Levinson is boarding "Train," an "L.A. Confidential"-style noir based on Pete Dexter's novel, for Lakeshore Entertainment.

Levinson will direct from a screenplay by Allison Burnett, who is also writing the "Fame" reboot for Lakeshore.

The 1950s-set "Train" centers on Miller Packard, a white sergeant in the San Diego Police Department, and a young black golf caddy named Lionel "Train" Walk, who harbors knowledge of a murder, and what happens when the characters collide. The mystery also explores themes of city politics and racism in midcentury Southern California.

"Train" continues Lakeshore's diverse slate of specialty and commercial films; the production banner is behind movies ranging from Goldwyn's Ben Kingsley-Penelope Cruz romantic drama "Elegy" to Overture's spiritual drama "Henry Poole Is Here" and the summer '09 tentpole and Jason Statham action tale "Crank 2."

Levinson, whose credits include "Diner" and "Good Morning, Vietnam," most recently closed the Festival de Cannes with his Hollywood satire "What Just Happened?" He also has signed on to direct the Western "Boone's Lick" for Universal as well as an adaptation of Bill Bryson's travel memoir "A Walk in the Woods."

In addition to "Fame," Burnett penned the Samuel Jackson boxing drama "Resurrecting the Champ" and the recent Screen Gems thriller "Untraceable," which Lakeshore produced. He also has recently sold a novel, "Undiscovered Gyrl," to Random House unit Vintage.

The novels of journalist-turned-crime writer Dexter have been a popular breeding ground for Hollywood producers, serving as source material for the Nick Nolte noir "Mulholland Falls," among others. Dexter's "The Paperboy," a Florida-set mystery that takes place in the 1960s, also is the foundation for Paul Verhoeven and Jan de Bont's upcoming collaboration. (partialdiff)