Mike Fleming

Kevin CostnerOscar-winner Kevin Costner has moved to WME, where he signed with co-CEO and board member Patrick Whitesell. The Dances With Wolves director/star had been represented by CAA, and continues to be managed by One Talent Management’s J.J. Harris. Costner isn’t the average client who needs an agent to find him an acting job. He’s a self-generator whose need for an agency is to package and get funding for passion projects he writes, directs and stars in. And in the case of his last film, Swing Vote, self-finances. (That pic sank like a stone, as has several others. I feel Costner suffers from Warren Beatty syndrome: both have the potential to be celebrated actors again if only they would give up control to an expert director who knows how to get a great performance out of them in good material that audiences might pay to see.)

I’m told WME will jump right into Costner’s quest to get funding so that he can next star in Learning Italian, a comedy with director Kevin Reynolds. Costner will play a CIA agent who has been stationed in an idyllic coastal town in Italy to keep an eye on a KGB agent there — until both secret agencies order the two spies to return to their respective countries and cook up a pseudo-threat to justify their continued stays in Italy. Costner hasn’t worked with Reynolds since they clashed infamously on Waterworld, but they’ve remained friendly.

Costner, who last directed 2003′s Open Range, also wants to saddle up, direct and star in another Western, this one called Horizon. To hype the film, he set up at A&E a miniseries prequel that is being prepped to shoot in the spring. Costner also most recently co-starred in the John Wells-directed The Company Men, which premiered at Sundance to enthusiastic audiences and reviewers.

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