Clint and WB spacing out on astronaut

Eastwood will produce and direct pic

Clint Eastwood is swapping fiction for fact on his second journey into space.

After teaming with Warner Bros. on 2000’s “Space Cowboys,” the actor-producer-director has now acquired the feature film rights to Pulitzer Prize-nominated historian James R. Hansen’s authorized biography of astronaut Neil Armstrong, via his WB-based production shingle Malpaso.

Eastwood will produce and direct pic for Warner Bros but will not star in the adaptation, which has yet to attach a screenwriter.

Book, entitled “First Man: A Life of Neil A. Armstrong,” traces Armstrong’s life from his time as a Korean War fighter pilot through his experiences in the American space program and his historic place as the first astronaut to set foot on the moon.

Hansen, who has the exclusive rights to Armstrong’s story, is expected to complete the book in late 2004.

Eastwood is in post-production for Warner Bros. on “Mystic River,” a crime drama based on Dennis Lehane’s bestselling novel. Pic, produced and directed by Eastwood, stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney.

“Millions of people watched Neil Armstrong step out onto the moon’s surface, and millions more have seen those images since the event happened,” Eastwood said. “However, Armstrong himself is a very enigmatic person. James Hansen’s book examines the life of a private man who shared a profound experience with the entire world; it’s a story that I think would make an interesting movie.”

Eastwood’s other recent credits include “Blood Work” and “Space Cowboys,” which he produced and directed as well as co-starring with Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner. Pic concerned a team of top fighter pilots, now retired, who are brought back into service to assist NASA during a major satellite crisis.

Eastwood won the directing Oscar for his revisionist Western “Unforgiven,” which snared a total of four statuettes, including picture kudos. In 1995 he also received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Deal for “First Man” was brokered by Joel Gotler and Justin Manask with the Linda Chester Literary Agency.

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