EXCLUSIVE: The George Clooney-directed The Ides of March will open the Venice Film Festival on Aug. 31, I’m told. The film, adapted from Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North, stars Clooney as a presidential candidate, Ryan Gosling as a head of media and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a campaign manager. Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood also star. The drama takes place during the Ohio primary for the Democratic nomination. It’s extremely topical, given the recent resignation of Congressman Anthony Weiner for sending photos of his package to online “sexting” partners. The Ides of March involves similar scandalous activities. Clooney, who retreats to a vacation home in Lake Como in Italy, has had several of his films play at the festival. They include Intolerable Cruelty, The Man Who Stared at Goats, and the Steven Soderbergh-directed Out of Sight. Sony Pictures will distribute the film in fall.
BREAKING: Exclusive Media Group chairman Guy East and Nigel Sinclair are teaming with Cross Creek Pictures president Brian Oliver to finance The Ides of March, the drama that is based on the Beau Willimon Broadway play Farragut North. George Clooney, long set as director, will also star alongside Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Clooney and his Smoke House Pictures partner Grant Heslov wrote the script with Willimon. The Smoke House partners are producing with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way. East, Sinclair and Oliver are co-producing. Exclusive Films International will sell offshore territories at AFM. CAA, which packaged the film and raised the financing, will broker the domestic deal. I’ve heard that Sony Pictures Entertainment is a potential landing place. The film begins production February in Michigan and Ohio.
Deadline revealed September 30 that Gosling would take the role that DiCaprio originally intended to play, a press spokesman for a candidate running in the presidential primary for the Democratic Party ticket. Clooney will play the candidate, a state governor with White House aspirations. Willimon based the play on his own experiences on the campaign trail with Howard Dean in 2004. In the play, the press agent falls prey to backroom politics, the manipulations of veteran political operatives and the seduction of a young intern. Giamatti plays a rival campaign manager, Tomei plays a reporter for the New York Times, and Wood plays an intern for the campaign.
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.