College Republicans

James Schamus, the former head of Focus Features and writer of films like The Ice Storm and Lust, Caution, has found his next directing project: College Republicans, a script which topped the Black List a decade ago but has taken on new significance thanks to the corruption in the Republican party that’s played out over the past few years. Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) are set to star.

College Republicans was a hot property in Hollywood in 2010, when writer Wes Jones‘s screenplay landed on top of The Black List, the industry’s annual list of the best-liked screenplays that weren’t produced that year. Here’s how Deadline describes the script:

The film is set in the Summer of 1973, as America witnesses the dirtiest election in its history – for the chairmanship of the national College Republicans club. Young Karl Rove embarks with his not-to-be-trusted campaign manager Lee Atwater on a backroom vote-getting – and vote-stealing – road trip through the South. Among the future Republican titans they form uneasy alliances with — and betray whenever convenient — include Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Jeff Sessions. But when Atwater meets his duplicitous match in a beautiful young Republican operative, their dreams of victory bring them all too close to humiliating, career-ending defeat.

Logan will play Rove, Butterfield will play Atwater, and Kristine Froseth (Apostle) will play Kate King — “a composite character who threatens their dreams of glory.”

Evidently, certain drafts of the script featured composite names for some of the lower-level players – people like Manafort and Stone who were not known on a national level at the time. But now that they’ve both gained massive media attention thanks to their relationships with Donald Trump, Schamus told Jones to put their names back in.

In 2010, Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!!) was attached to direct this film and Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy) was on board to play young Karl Rove. Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) eventually replaced LaBeouf, and later, years after both Dano and Linklater had fallen off the project, it was gearing up with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) to star for Kill Your Darlings director John Krokidas.

Now the directing job will go to Schamus, who has had an incredible career in the industry as the CEO of Focus Features and the writer of films like The Ice Storm, Hulk, Taking Woodstock, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He’s only directed one narrative feature film so far – 2016’s Indignation, which also starred Logan Lerman – but production on this one is supposed to begin in the spring or summer of 2021.

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