Night Watchman has been one of those elusive Hollywood properties with a great pedigree that just can’t
seem to make it into production. It started as a James Ellroy original screenplay
set just after the O.J. Simpson verdict involving the LAPD and an officer who’s questioning
corruption, both inside himself and in his department. At some point, John
Ridley was brought in to do a rewrite, and David Fincher was tentatively
attached. Meanwhile, Ellroy teamed up with co-writer David Ayer (Training
) to bring a very similar (and equally long-in-the-making) story to
the screen with 2002’s disappointing Dark Blue starring Kurt Russell.

this was going on, the Ridley script bounced around a couple of studios before
settling in development Hell. Then, as previously reported on CHUD, Spike Lee
came along and brought Keanu Reeves to star in the film, due to start shooting
in February.

Of 2005, that is.

Spike eventually left and Oliver Stone stepped in
a year later, but to no avail. Now, The
Night Watchman
has resurfaced yet again, this time at Fox Searchlight.
Reeves is still set to star in it, and Ellroy’s man, David Ayer, will be directing as soon as he does yet another rewrite of the screenplay. I can’t say I’m excited given the
results of the last Ellroy/Ayer collaboration, plus I was really looking forward to Lee’s take on this material.
However, I’m willing to give the
film the benefit of the doubt if this story attracted so much A-list talent in
the first place.
Of course, we won’t know if
this is truly happening until they begin principal photography, now set for April.