Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: George Clooney is close to finding his star for Farragut North. I’m told he’s negotiating with Ryan Gosling to play the lead role of a young communications director who works for a fast rising presidential candidate. During the course of the campaign, the idealistic young man falls prey to the backstabbing and other dirty trickery of more seasoned rivals.

Gosling is in line to play a role once eyed by Leonardo DiCaprio when the Beau Willimon play was optioned by Warner Bros two years ago. Clooney  already was eyeing it as a directing vehicle back then. Willimon worked for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential run, and his own experiences informed the play.  Right now, Clooney and his Smokehouse Productions banner partner Grant Heslov are running point on the project. They aren’t saying where the money is coming from or who’ll distribute, but they are confident they will begin production in March.

Gosling is expected to be a factor in the Best Actor race, by merit of his performance opposite Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, the drama that will be distributed by The Weinstein Company.

Get Deadline news and alerts sent to your inbox.