Taylor Hackford already has an Oscar. No, no it's not for "Ray," it's actually for "Teenage Father," a short film he directed way, way back in 1979. And his filmography is mostly dramatic fare, stuff like "An Officer and a Gentleman," "Dolores Claiborne," "Proof Of Life" and last year's "Love Ranch." But as he closes in on seventy years old, Hackford is ready to get gritty.

Variety reports that Jason Statham (sigh) is in negotations to star in "Parker," a thriller based on the character created by Donald E. Westlake (who penned the books under the nom de plume Richard Stark). Rather than being based on any single book, it seems the character will be lifted and plopped into some fresh adventures in a script by John J. McLaughlin who co-wrote "Black Swan."

If you haven't read the books -- and you should, a lot of them have been re-issued in a nice editions by the University Of Chicago Press -- they follow the titular character, a thief who doesn't steal from those who needs it and doesn't kill...unless he has to.

And as great as this potentially could be, we're keeping our reservations in check. Statham isn't exactly known for his broad array of diverse characters and we won't be surprised if this is yet another sub-"The Transporter" riff. No word yet on when the film will go in front of cameras; it's going to be shopped around at Cannes next month and we presume if sales are brisk everything else will fall into place. As for Statham, he's got that dumb looking "Blitz" coming out across the pond, and "The Killer Elite" with Clive Owen in the can with "Echelon" presumably on deck.