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Joel Edgerton locks bin Laden pic

Bigelow-Boal project faces increased scrutiny in D.C.

Joel Edgerton has formally enlisted to star in the untitled Osama bin Laden pic from Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, a project that is under scrutiny in Washington, D.C., amid allegations that the Obama administration has given preferential treatment to some Oscar-winning filmmakers.

The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security announced Thursday that the Dept. of Defense and the CIA were investigating whether classified information about the killing of bin Laden was released to Bigelow and Boal. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) released a letter from the Office of the Inspector General at Defense saying they are conducting an investigation. Also released was a letter from the office of the CIA’s inspector general saying that it is developing “a written policy to create a single point of reference that will govern future interactions with the entertainment industry.”

The White House has denied that classified information was released.

The project became a political flashpoint after Sony announced initial plans to release the movie in October, just weeks before the election. Some Republicans suggested that it was a way to boost Obama’s re-election prospects. Pic is expected to go into production next month and will now bow Dec. 19.

Reports since May have had Edgerton (“Warrior”) attached to star the project, but insiders said at the time that he was merely the unofficial top choice, as the script was unfinished. By the time a script was done and casting began in October, it appeared that Edgerton’s schedule would clash with shooting; he’d been mulling an offer to star in the “300” prequel. But Edgerton passed on the Warner Bros. project, freeing him up to join the bin Laden pic cast that already includes Jason Clarke.

Sony will distribute the film to be directed by Bigelow from Boal’s script. Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is financing.

Story revolves around the Navy SEAL team that tracked and eventually killed bin Laden. Boal and Bigelow, who collaborated on Oscar best picture winner “The Hurt Locker,” will produce along with Ellison, Greg Shapiro and Ted Schipper.

A number of roles are still open, including a female reporter embedded with the SEAL 6 team.

Rooney Mara had been eyed, but her “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” promotion schedule prevented it.

Edgerton’s has become a very popular option among Hollywood execs for high-profile pics in the last year. Prior to Lionsgate’s “Warrior,” he was being looked at for starring roles in Universal’s “The Bourne Legacy” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” before joining Warner Bros.’ “The Great Gatsby.”

The actor is repped by CAA and Shanahan Management.

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