Vets Polanski, Leigh, Loach, Cronenberg chosen

Steven Spielberg plans to direct a film about the life of controversial aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, based on A. Scott Berg’s unpublished biography.

DreamWorks has bought the rights to the nearly completed book, sight-unseen. The 800-page tome, eight years in the making, will be published by Putnam in early fall.

While he has yet to lay eyes on the manuscript, Spielberg recently met for several hours with Berg to discuss the work.

Berg has delivered a draft of the book to the publisher and is now working on final revisions. DreamWorks production co-head Laurie MacDonald said she expected to see the manuscript within a few weeks and would immediately begin looking for a screenwriter.

“This is more than development,” MacDonald added. “It’s something Steven is committed to making.”

It would be the first movie adaptation of a book by the award-winning author, who is noted for his exhaustively researched biographies, including National Book Award winner “Max Perkins: Editor of Genius” and “Goldwyn: A Biography.”

“When Scott gets inside of a subject he has an uncanny insight and commitment to finding the truth of the character,” said MacDonald. “That’s invaluable when you’re developing a script.”

Spielberg has long held a fascination for the complex historical figure whose 1927 transatlantic flight made him an American hero. Lindbergh’s fame was compounded when his baby son was kidnapped. But his legacy has been tainted by his controversial politics, including Nazi affiliations and his opposition to America’s involvement in World War II.

Berg was given unprecedented access to extensive Lindbergh archives, including over 2,000 boxes of personal papers, letters and diaries. The author also interviewed Lindbergh’s friends, colleagues and surviving family members.

James Stewart played the aviator in the 1957 film “The Spirit of St. Louis,” which was based on Lindbergh’s autobiography.

The deal was repped by CAA’s Robert Bookman on behalf of Berg’s literary agent Lynn Nesbit.

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