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Kaufman inks to helm ‘Shepherd’

Veteran director Philip Kaufman, who last arose with “Rising Sun,” has inked to herd the thriller “The Good Shepherd” to the screen for Columbia Pictures and American Zoetrope Prods., sources said Thursday.

Kaufman will earn about $4 million for the project. Sources said that Col wants to cast it within the next month and give it a green light for later this year.

Plot details were sketchy, but sources described the pic simply as “a big original epic story regarding the CIA.”

Francis Ford Coppola and Fred Fuchs, of Zoetrope, are producing. Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”), who came up with the original idea, is currently doing a rewrite with Kaufman’s help.

Kaufman’s deal was brokered by John Burnham and Josh Donen of the William Morris Agency.

Kaufman’s other feature helming credits include “Henry and June,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” “The Right Stuff,” “The Wanderers” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” He also wrote “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and had story credit with George Lucas on “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

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