Columbia sets director for Wallace adaptation

David Koepp has signed on to a pair of projects for Columbia Pictures.

First he’ll direct “Billionaire’s Vinegar,” a film loosely based on the Benjamin Wallace book about a scandal that erupted when an auctioned cache of wine purported to have been culled from the stocks of Thomas Jefferson were deemed fakes by some.

Koepp will write the script with John Kamps.

The scribe-helmer will then adapt the Charles McCarry novel “Shelley’s Heart” into a political drama called “Article II” that he’ll direct for the studio.

Gavin Polone is producing the film, about two friends who become bitter rivals for the presidential election, which is won by computer fraud.

Escape Artists and Overbrook Entertainment used their own coin to buy “The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine,” last year (Daily Variety, Jan. 31, 2008), before it was published by Crown and became a bestseller.

Overbrook’s James Lassiter, Will Smith and Ken Stovitz will produce “Billionaire’s Vinegar” with Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Steve Tisch and Jason Blumenthal. Both companies have deals at Sony.

Koepp most recently wrote and directed “Ghost Town,” which he wrote with Kamps. Koepp is a co-writer of the Ron Howard-directed “Angels and Demons,” which Sony releases this summer.

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