WB goes for ‘Gideon’ with Grazer producing

Deal's upfront fees top $1 million

Warner Bros. will turn the historical drama “Gideon Force” into a feature, with Jim Uhls (“Fight Club”) scripting the story of a British general’s unlikely alliance with a black prince to liberate Ethiopia from Italian rule at the start of WWI. Imagine chairman Brian Grazer will produce. Upfront fees on the deal are north of $1 million.

The project was brought into WB by senior veep Kevin McCormick, who heard a pitch for the story by Howard Blum, the journalist who has a knack for sleuthing intriguing historical dramas which work as feature films.

Blum, whose previous books include the John Gotti book “Gangland,” has a Miramax deal for “The Brigade,” a book which HarperCollins will publish in November, based on the true story of how 5,000 Palestinian Jews fought the Nazis and liberated 40,000 children from concentration camps and helped form Israel. Nick Meyer is writing the script for that film. At this point, Blum has no plans to turn “Gideon Force” into a book.

McCormick flipped for the premise, with eccentric British general Orde Wingate teaming up with a prince named Des to wrest control of Ethiopia away from the Italians. Uhls was quickly added to the mix.

“I’m always attracted to the underdog story, and this is a remarkable one,” said Grazer. “There are two extremely well-drawn characters, which give you the opportunity to get two great actors. I also love the nature of the drama, the triumph.” Grazer has been steering the producer into more nonfiction fare. The next major Imagine film is the Ron Howard-directed “A Beautiful Mind,” with Russell Crowe starring as a Nobel Prize-winning genius who battles schizophrenia.

CAA represented the entire package of elements in “Gideon.”

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