NEW YORK - Veteran director John Frankenheimer has agreed to direct the United Artists Corp. Ltd. film "Ronin," which will shoot this fall throughout Europe. It marks the fifth UA picture for Frankenheimer, whose other UA credits include "The Birdman of Alcatraz" and "The Manchurian Candidate."

In the J.D. Zeik-scripted "Ronin," a post-Cold War group of CIA-type operatives from several countries team up for private duty. During a difficult job, the men and their morality, or lack of it, is revealed. The film will be produced by Frank Mancuso Jr. and Paul Kelmenson. "It's a very good script, and the kind of movie I'd love to go see," Frankenheimer said. "The characters, both male and female, are terribly good at what they do, they just have no place to do it anymore. They're hired to pull off a job; get double crossed twice and have to get out of it. What I like is, it's a character-driven action picture, and I have done those before, with 'Black Sunday' and 'French Connection II.' It's not one of these CGI pictures, it's a film about people. It's not bigger than life, which I don't relate to that much."

Frankenheimer, who's repped by ICM's Ken Kamins, has won three straight best director Emmys for HBO's "Against the Wall" and "The Burning Season" and TNT's "Andersonville," and just wrapped his attempt at a fourth, the TNT Gary Sinise starrer "George Wallace."

"What made me want to make this movie is that it reminded me of films of an era that has long since passed that started with 'Manchurian Candidate,' these intricate suspense thrillers," Mancuso said. He's currently filming the "Species" sequel for MGM in Baltimore. "Nowadays, people seem to try and create set pieces and find a narrative that loosely hangs it together. This is the other way around, starting with a reasonably complicated narrative structure to which you can add some set pieces that don't clash with the forward drive of the narrative. And the work John has done recently has been extraordinary, let alone that he set the template for these kinds of movies 30 years ago."

Copyright 1997 Variety Inc.

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