Clooney eyeing stage adaptation as director

Warner Bros. is developing a screen version of Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North,” with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star and George Clooney eyeing the project as director.

DiCaprio’s Appian Way will produce with Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smoke House shingle.

Willimon is writing the script. Appian Way and Smoke House both sparked to the play after reading it, and a marriage was made at WB, where both Smokehouse and Appian Way have first-look deals. Clooney is considering taking an onscreen role.

Protag is a young communications director for a fast-rising presidential candidate. During the course of the campaign, the idealistic young man falls prey to the backstabbing and other dirty trickery of seasoned rivals.

The play is headed for Broadway next year, with Mike Nichols reportedly in line to direct Jake Gyllenhaal in the thesp’s Broadway debut.

Willimon worked for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential run, an experience that informed the play. While “Farragut North” has yet to be seen, the script has been circulating around Hollywood, leading to a quick transition to screenwriting for Willimon.

Aside from the WB pic adaptation, Willimon was tapped last week by director Marc Forster to adapt the 2002 British miniseries “The Jury” into a feature for Fox 2000. The director sought out the writer after reading “Farragut.”

Timing of the screen version of the play hasn’t been determined.

DiCaprio just finished starring with Kate Winslet in the Sam Mendes-directed “Revolutionary Road” for DreamWorks, and he’s currently at work starring with Russell Crowe in the Ridley Scott-directed “Body of Lies” for WB.

Clooney and Heslov are completing “Leatherheads,” the 1920s gridiron comedy that Clooney directed for Universal. The film recently got pushed to an April 4 release date after Clooney asked for more time because of his recent motorcycle accident. He’s finishing post-production on that film and starring with Brad Pitt in the Coen brothers-directed “Burn After Reading.”

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