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Happiness Director?


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Italian helmer Gabriele Muccino has come aboard to direct Will Smith in Columbia Pictures' The Pursuit of Happyness. The project is based on the true-life rags-to-riches tale of investment banker Chris Gardner.

Gardner's story, which aired as a segment on ABC's 20/20 in January, has gained national attention and was hotly pursued by several Hollywood producers and studios. It is a real-life tale of survival over life's toughest challenges. After a chain of circumstances left Gardner jobless and homeless at age 30, he found himself and his baby son living in a bathroom at a San Francisco train station.

Despite the negative situation, Gardner continued to fight toward his goal of becoming a broker, eventually landing a job as a trainee and rising through the ranks at such companies as Dean Witter and Bear Stearns to his current standing -- partner and owner of the Chicago-based minority brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co. and self-made millionaire.

Steve Conrad, who wrote The Weather Man, penned the film's script. The project will begin filming in the San Francisco area this August.

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The Hollywood Reporter confims this story today.

'Happyness' in Muccino's future

Gabriele Muccino will helm Columbia Pictures' "Pursuit of Happyness," starring Will Smith. Muccino most recently directed 2003's "Ricordati di me" (Remember Me, My Love). His credits include "L'Ultimo bacio" (One Last Kiss) and "Come te nessuno mai" (But Forever in My Mind). The project is based on the rags-to-riches tale of investment banker Chris Gardner. The film is being produced by Overbrook Entertainment Escape Artists. Matt Tolmach, Doug Belgrad and Amy Baer are overseeing the project at Columbia. Steve Conrad, who penned "The Weather Man" for Escape Artists, wrote the script. (Gregg

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