Drama based on true story during Jefferson's presidency

Twentieth Century Fox has paid mid-six figures to pick up William Monahan’s spec script “Tripoli” for Fox-based producer Mark Gordon to produce.

Pic, described as a cross between “A Man For All Seasons” and “Lawrence of Arabia,” is an epic historical drama set during the time of the Thomas Jefferson presidency.

It’s the true story of how U.S. soldier and diplomat William Eaton joined forces with an exiled king to overthrow the corrupt ruler of Tripoli in what is now Libya.

Lawrence Inglee is exec in charge of project for the Mark Gordon Co.

Monahan, repped by AMG and Gotham lit agency William Clark Associates, penned his first novel “The Lighthouse,” which was optioned by Warner Bros.-based producer Billy Gerber. The first-time author will adapt, with Gore Verbinski attached to direct.

Gordon and Pelagius Entertainment’s Joe Fries are also producing “Johnny Eck,” being financed and distributed by Fox Searchlight. Pic is a dramatic vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the star of the 1932 Tod Browning film “Freaks” and his identical twin brother. “Edward Scissorhands” scribe Caroline Thompson has signed to write the screenplay.

“Eck” was the first project Mark Gordon Co. set up at a Fox division after making an overall first-look deal at the studio (Daily Variety, Oct. 10).

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