Time to break out the Champale once again! Former CHUD superstar Mark Wheaton (aka Smilin’ Jack Ruby) has got another screenplay headed for the big screen!

And this announcement is especially gratifying because the script in question, Unfinished Country, has been a passion project for Mark for several years. Set in the Soweto slums of Johannesburg, South Africa, Jackson will play Elton, the chief administrator of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (the largest hospital in the world). Conflict arises when an American medical student doing his residency begins to challenge Elton’s management of the hospital, which somehow plunges the facility into the middle of an ongoing gang war.

The Hollywood Reporter cites Training Day as an influence, and I seem to recall Mark mentioning that title on one of the several occasions we discussed the script (he also talked a bunch about The Children’s Hour for some reason). Since Jackson’s already got two films lined up for ’08 (Soul Men and The Man That Rocks the Cradle), I think it’s safe to assume that Unfinished Country won’t go until the second half of next year. But with Sam attached (and considering the quality of the material), it probably won’t be long before there’s a director on board. Who’s to say this doesn’t happen before The Man That Rocks the Cradle?

Blue Star Pictures (William Sherak and Jason Schuman) and Inferno Entertainment (Bill Johnson and Jim Seibel) are producing. Tim O’Hair is also listed as a producer. There’s no mention of a studio just yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony gets involved at some point.

Congrats, Mark!