George Clooney's Smokehouse to produce

Warner Bros. has set Aaron Sorkin to write “The Challenge,” a courtroom drama for George Clooney’s Smokehouse shingle.

Clooney is producing with Smoke House partner Grant Heslov and Ross Katz. Clooney may direct and hopes to play Navy lawyer Charles Swift in the drama about the effort by Swift and Georgetown U. law professor Neal Katyal to ensure a fair trial for Osama bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, who’d been held at Guantanamo Bay for five years.

WB and Smokehouse got started on the project over the summer by optioning Jonathan Mahler book “The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power” (Daily Variety, Aug. 13).

The courtroom drama wouldn’t debate Hamdan’s guilt or innocence but chart the dogged efforts of the two lawyers who sue the president because they feel the U.S. government has broken the law and violated the Constitution.

Captured in 2001 in Afghanistan while transporting two missiles in a car, Hamdan was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 5½ years by a military commission for providing material support to Al-Qaeda. He was cleared of the terrorism conspiracy charges that would have drawn a much longer sentence.

Sorkin, who most recently penned “Charlie Wilson’s War,” is working on a film about the formation of the social network Facebook. He’s also prepping for production on DreamWorks pic “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” to be directed by Ben Stiller.

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