Craig Brewer readies $5 Cover, adds new project. 

While Craig Brewer has been at the Sundance Film Festival this week promoting his upcoming Web series $5 Cover alongside a group of his Memphis collaborators, he's also added yet another potential project to his to-do list.

As first reported by Hollywood Reporter, Brewer has signed a development deal to write and direct Mother Trucker for New Regency. The project is based on a Maxim magazine article about a man who broke out of prison and hijacked an 18-wheeler to visit his ailing mother. The article's author, Steven Russell, is a former Memphian and Brewer's cousin. According to Brewer, Russell got him interested in the project, and Brewer shopped the project to studios.

If you're keeping track, this is at least the fourth feature project Brewer has been attached to since Black Snake Moan, following two country-music-themed films (Maggie Lynn and an untitled biopic of African-American country singer Charley Pride) and Gang Leader for a Day, based on a best-selling nonfiction book.

If this seems like a lot of prospective work without much final product, it's only because we aren't used to having a major film director in our midst. It's common for filmmakers to juggle multiple projects and for some projects to take years to come to fruition. (For example, Internet Movie Database lists 12 "in-development" projects for Martin Scorsese.)

While Brewer says he isn't sure which of these four very different projects will get off the ground first, he sounded excited about Mother Trucker when the Flyer talked to him the day before he left Memphis for Sundance, describing the story as a Cool Hand Luke-type tale of "an affable but misguided thief."

"I liked the premise," Brewer says of the story of the man who, in real life, escaped jail, stole an 18-wheeler from a Wal-Mart parking lot, and eventually absconded with country singer Crystal Gayle's tour bus. Brewer says he'll draw inspiration from the likes of Smokey & the Bandit, Convoy, and Sugarland Express for his take on a different type of Southern genre movie.

In the meantime, Brewer is focusing on the imminent launch of $5 Cover, which will screen as part of Sundance's New Frontier program and will be feted at Austin's SXSW festival in March around the time of its official launch.

"MTV is blown away by it," Brewer says. "I am too. It's completely exceeded my expectations. I know some people will complain, but I don't care."

Brewer says MTV is "stunned by the production quality" relative to the cost of the project and that there's a chance some of $5 Cover gets television exposure to promote the Web-based product. A local premiere of $5 Cover is tentatively scheduled for early March.

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