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Streep mines Mideast in ‘Rendition’

Actress will play a government official in Hood-directed film

Meryl Streep is joining the cast of New Line’s Middle East political thriller “Rendition” alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.

Streep will portray a government official who approves the transfer — the so-called rendition — to a Middle East country of a suspect in a suicide bombing. Shooting of her scenes is expected to begin in Los Angeles in the next few days.

Production started last week, with Gavin Hood (“Tsotsi”) directing and Steve Golin producing via his Anonymous Content banner. Bill Todman’s Level One is co-financing with New Line.

“Rendition” has been fast-tracked since May, when New Line closed the deal for tyro scribe Kelley Sane’s spec, centered on a CIA operative in the Middle East who questions his assignment after observing a secret-police grilling of the suspect.

Peter Saarsgard and Alan Arkin also star.

The mini-major’s also signed Omar Metwally, who received a Tony nom for “Sixteen Wounded,” as the suspect. Metwally is also starring in James Ivory’s “The City of Your Final Destination” alongside Anthony Hopkins and Laura Linney.

Streep’s attached to star in Paramount Vantage’s “Dirty Tricks” as Watergate figure Martha Mitchell and alongside Tom Cruise and Robert Redford in “Lions for Lambs” at United Artists.

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