‘Crusaders’ march

Participant, helmer come aboard drama

Participant Prods. will co-finance “The Crusaders,” New Line’s drama about the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, with Bob Cooper and Participant prexy Ricky Strauss producing.

New Line’s tapped “The West Wing” exec producer Alex Graves to helm the pic; Terrence Howard and Topher Grace are in talks to co-star. Graves, who’s also directed three dozen “West Wing” episodes, is replacing Brad Silberling.

New Line has brought on John Romano to script. Previous version was penned by “West Wing” scribes Paul Redford and Lawrence O’Donnell based on Jack Greenberg’s memoir “Crusaders in the Courts.”

Story recounts the 1954 Supreme Court case in which Greenberg, a recent law school grad, and Thurgood Marshall, as head of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, teamed to help end segregation in schools. Marshall eventually became the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

Graves’ small-screen credits include the pilot for ABC’s “The Nine,” “Leap of Faith,” “Sports Night,” “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Public.”

Participant, founded by eBay entrepreneur Jeff Skoll, focuses on developing socially relevant projects. Credits include “Syriana,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “An Inconvenient Truth” and the upcoming “Fast Food Nation.”

Cooper’s a producer on Fox’s upcoming “John Tucker Must Die.”

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