'Americano' tells murky rebel's tale

New Line Cinema has optioned the Aran Shetterly book “The Americano: Fighting for Freedom in Castro’s Cuba, an Untold Story.” Robert Schwentke is attached to direct the pic centering on William Morgan, an American who became a key figure in the Cuban revolution in the late 1950s but was executed after crossing Fidel Castro.

The script will be written by Mark Bailey. Ed Saxon will produce through his ESP banner. Schwentke is prepping “The Time Traveler’s Wife” for New Line, with Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams starring, and Bailey just scripted “The Zenith Man” for New Line. He’ll be executive producer on “Americano.”

Morgan, a high school dropout who was rumored to have been a gangster and a CIA operative, headed to Cuba in the 1950s, and rose to command the legendary Cuban fighting column known as the Tigers of the Jungle. Blond, and wielding a gold-plated pistol, he stood out among rebels. Morgan eventually became caught up among the conflicting agendas of guerrilla leader Castro, U.S. mobsters and the FBI; when he turned against Castro after the Cuban leader embraced communism, Morgan was executed in 1961.

Bailey just teamed with director Ben Ross to adapt the Michael Ondaatje novel “Coming Through Slaughter” for producer Paul Maslansky. Saxon is producing the Stephen Frears-directed “The Burial” at Screen Gems and is exec producing with Martin Scorsese an HBO adaptation of the Russell Banks book “Cloudsplitter,” with Raoul Peck directing a script by Tim Sexton.

Bailey is repped by Gersh.

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