Scott shores up ‘Tripoli’

Monahan to pen back-to-back epics for helmer

In what will be his first directing assignment since Scott Free signed an overall deal at 20th Century Fox late last year, Oscar-nominated “Black Hawk Down” director Ridley Scott has committed to next direct the William Monahan-scripted historical drama “Tripoli.”

Project has been developed at the studio by the Mark Gordon Co., and Gordon will produce the film with Scott Free, the partnership between Scott and his brother Tony.

Commitment comes just days after Scott and Scott Free president Lisa Ellzey hired Monahan to draft an epic adventure set during the 11th century Crusades; Scott hopes to direct that pic after he completes “Tripoli.”

That puts Monahan, a Massachusetts-based writer who was discovered by AMG manager Judi Farkas, in position to be the scripter of back-to-back Scott epics. Scott and Ellzey made the Crusades hire after reading the “Tripoli” script, and amid a multitude of offers to helm epics, Scott decided this one was strongest.

“Tripoli” had a remarkably brief gestation period, as it was purchased by Fox and Gordon just three months ago, with the studio eyeing a late summer or early fall start date for a project that is being compared in scope to “Lawrence of Arabia.” It revolves around the true story of William Eaton, an American who helped the rightful heir to the throne of Tripoli (now Libya) lead an overthrow of a corrupt ruler who was oppressing the population in the early 1800s.

“It is the story of a young man’s growth from a diplomat to a soldier to a statesman, and it has all those things that Ridley does so well,” said chairman Tom Rothman, who put the deal together with Jim Gianopulos, 20th prexy Hutch Parker and exec veep Michael Andreen.

Scott has continued to maintain a prolific post-millennium pace, directing in quick succession the best picture Oscar winner “Gladiator,” followed by the hits “Hannibal” and “Black Hawk Down.” For Gordon, the project becomes the second go picture since his company signed an overall deal there last year. He’s in pre-production on “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” with director Steve Norrington and topliner Sean Connery.

Monahan is repped by attorney David Fox.

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