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Donaldson nears Beacon’s ’13’

Cuban missle crisis pic to star Costner

NEW YORK — In what will mark a reteaming with “No Way Out” star Kevin Costner, director Roger Donaldson is in final negotiations to helm “13 Days,” the Beacon Communications drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, which New Line Cinema will distribute domestically. Beacon owns foreign rights.

Though both deals are still being ironed out, the expected signing of Donaldson as director and New Line as domestic partner ends the uncertainty surrounding the big-budget drama, which is now on course for a Sept. 20 start date, with plans to shoot in L.A., D.C. and Florida.

The screenplay by David Self has been a Hollywood favorite, but although Costner has been locked into playing White House adviser Kenny O’Donnell since last year and has been active in putting together the movie with Beacon chairman Armyan Bernstein, the project has shifted directors and studios several times.

Most of that was due to change-of-elements clauses that kicked in after Universal put the pic in turnaround. A subsequent deal with Sony went by the wayside when Phil Alden Robinson exited. Beacon then set it up at New Line when it appeared that Francis Coppola would be helming.

Donaldson, whose recent films include “Species” and “Dante’s Peak,” has been keen all along to direct the drama, which centers on the discovery by U.S. spy planes that the Soviets had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba and aimed them at the U.S.

The film dramatizes the tensions, politicking and face-off that brought the superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.

Donaldson is repped by CAA.