The film-makers behind the smash hit Ray Charles movie Ray are producing a biopic of baseball pioneer JACKIE ROBINSON's life.

Robert Redford is set to play BROOKLYN DODGERS manager BRANCH RICKEY, who signed Robinson as the first black player in Major League Baseball.

Producer HOWARD BALDWIN says, "This will be our next Ray. This is one of the most important stories not just in sports, but in our history.

"This man had enough poise and sophistication and the courage to realise that for the good of mankind, for the good of his race, he had to succeed. And he didn't just succeed. He was a great, great baseball player."

The film has the blessing of Robinson's widow, RACHEL, and BRANCH RICKEY III, grandson of the Dodgers' general manager.

Production is due to begin early next year (06), with a release date in late 2006 or early 2007.

As well as having veteran screen star Redford signed, Baldwin also wishes to speak to the OSCAR-winning Ray star himself, Jamie Foxx.

Baldwin says, "At the appropriate time, we'd be nuts not to want to talk to Jamie."

30/03/2005 21:19