You may have noted my mention of a playwright named Beau Willimon last week. If not, it was in a post about a remake of the British miniseries The Jury, which Finding Neverland's Marc Forster will direct. I pointed out that Forster actually handpicked Willimon to be the screenwriter of that project after reading the guy's play Farragut North. The political drama is set to open on Broadway early next year with Jake Gyllenhaal starring and Mike Nichols directing, and I figured that eventually there'd be a movie in the works, possibly with that prestigious duo re-teamed for the big screen version. But no, it seems Gyllenhaal and Nichols just aren't good enough for Warner Bros., who owns the film rights. Instead they've cast some guy named Leonardo DiCaprio for the lead and are hoping to sign on some old television has-been named George Clooney to direct.

According to Variety, the project is also being produced by DiCaprio's company, Appian Way (The Aviator), and Clooney's company (with Grant Heslov), Smoke House (Leatherheads); both companies apparently teamed up after reading the script (were they at the same party as Forster?) and then together brought the thing to Warners. In the film, DiCaprio will play a young idealist working on a presidential campaign who ultimately ends up resorting to bad tactics like backstabbing and trickery. Basically, it sounds like the sad story of the common politico who still thinks there's room for Mr. Smith's out there, only to wake up and discover the real world of Washington. But as much as it sounds familiar, or obvious, or otherwise trite, it seems the play is somewhat autobiographical, as Willimon based it on his experience working on Howard Dean's 2004 campaign. Certainly the film would be a great timely release for 2008, but right now the film, which Willimon is adapting himself, doesn't have a clear start date. Hopefully Warners can grab DiCaprio as soon as he's done with Ridley Scott's Body of Lies and Clooney as soon as he's done with the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading for a just-in-time Fall opening.