Denzel will direct Sammy Davis Jr. biopic. He'll adapt Wil Haygood's recent biography of the entertainer, ''In Black and White''

By Gary Susman
Updated July 06, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Denzel Washington: Jennifer Graylock/AP

Alas, we won’t get to see if Denzel Washington can tap dance. Variety reports that the two-time Oscar winner is planning to direct but not star in a biopic about Sammy Davis Jr. He’ll coproduce the Universal film with Imagine Entertainment, which has optioned the rights to Wil Haygood’s 2003 biography of the legendary song-and-dance man, ”In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr.” ”I became very interested in the life of Sammy as it was introduced to me by Denzel,” Imagine chief Brian Grazer told Variety. ”There are so many dimensions to him that make his story interesting.”

The Davis movie, which would mark Washington’s second directing gig (after 2002’s ”Antwone Fisher”), will be competing with another Davis biopic in the works. Based on Davis’ memoir ”Yes I Can,” it’s being developed in cooperation with the Rat Packer’s widow and with Eddie Griffin already attached to play the Candy Man. It’s also the second current Washington project for Imagine, which is producing the upcoming crime drama ”Tru Blu,” which will costar Washington and fellow Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro. After that, Washington is eyeing a role in another historical project, ”Brothers in Arms,” about the all-black 761st Tank Battalion in World War II, based on the new book by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton.