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Clooney signs for Coens pic

Thesp exits WMA for CAA

Two weeks after hanging up his “ER” stethoscope for good, George Clooney has signed to make his next film Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” The Coens’ drama will be a Universal and Disney co-production. Working Title’s Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan are producing.

Clooney has also signed with Creative Artists Agency, which will broker his “Brother” deal; he had been repped by the William Morris Agency.

Clooney ended his run at WMA when his longtime agent, Michael Gruber, exited the percentery. His decision to sign with CAA does not involve Gruber, who remains on the sidelines until his WMA contract expires and who has not declared his next move, although he has long been rumored to be heading to CAA.

Clooney, who left “ER” to concentrate on features, last starred in Steven Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight.” He is currently starring in Warner Bros.’ Gulf War drama “Three Kings,” which is directed by David O. Russell and co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube.

Clooney has been sweet on the Coen project since the brothers gave him the script and asked him to play the lead in what’s described as a Southern “Odyssey.”

Clooney will play the leader of three escapees from a chain gang in the 1930s. The pic tracks their misadventures in Mississippi and other Southern locales as they try to elude a tracker. The film was put together by Fellner and Bevan, who were obliged to bring it to Universal following Seagram’s purchase of Polygram. Universal, which is now avidly looking for partnerships on pictures, cooked up the co-production deal with Disney. The Mouse House will handle domestic on the film, while Universal takes foreign.

As a producer, Clooney has a number of projects in development for CBS under his Maysville banner, including a B&W remake of the 1964 Sidney Lumet pic “Fail-Safe”; a Clooney-scripted series called “Kilroy,” which was picked up for a pilot by HBO; and a telepic about CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow’s fight against the Communist witch-hunt of Sen. Joe McCarthy (Daily Variety, Dec. 17).

The Coens, best known for the droll, Oscar-winning “Fargo,” most recently wrote, produced and directed “The Big Lebowski.” They are repped by UTA.

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