Will Smith's Latest Gamble

08/04/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

Will Smith is planning to do his version of "Casino," but with a twist. New Line Cinema has announced that the "Men in Black" leading man is set to co-produce and star in an epic, fact-based story about the Moulin Rouge, the first interracial hotel and casino in Las Vegas. The Moulin Rouge, which opened in 1955, attracted talent and guests at a time when other Vegas hotels did not permit African Americans to set foot in their casinos, restaurants, guestrooms or swimming pools. Such open-minded Vegas celebrities as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin flocked to the Moulin Rouge to help popularize and publicize the place. However, the complex died after only a few months, amid speculation that the Mob, which then controlled the gambling city, shut it down. As this project develops, Smith will be seen with Matt Damon in the period golf movie, "The Legend of Bagger Vance," directed by Robert Redford.

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