By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director Oliver Stone has landed a distribution deal with independent studio Lionsgate to get an upcoming film about President George W. Bush into U.S. theaters in October, shortly before the presidential election.
The political biography, to be called "W" and featuring "No Country for Old Men" star Josh Brolin as Bush, is slated to begin shooting in Louisiana on Monday, Lionsgate said on Friday.
Lionsgate is the distributor behind director Michael Moore's commercially successful political documentaries "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Sicko."
The film will open on October 17 in North America, said Lionsgate, which also will distribute the movie in Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
Brolin's father James Brolin, who is married to leading Hollywood Democratic activist Barbra Streisand, played another two-term Republican president in the controversial TV movie "The Reagans" in 2003.
In addition to Brolin, the film stars Elizabeth Banks ("Seabiscuit") as first lady Laura Bush; James Cromwell ("The Queen") as former President George H.W. Bush; and Ellen Burstyn ("Requiem for a Dream") as his wife, Barbara Bush.
Rounding out the cast are Thandie Newton ("Crash") as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Jeffrey Wright ("Syriana") as former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Scott Glenn ("The Bourne Ultimatum") as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; and Ioan Gruffud ("Fantastic Four") as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Still to be cast are the roles of Vice President Dick Cheney and former White House political adviser Karl Rove.
"Despite a meteoric, almost illogical rise to power, and a tremendous influence on the world, we don't really know much about Mr. Bush beyond the controlled images we've been allowed to see on TV," Stone said in a statement. "This movie's taking a bold stab at looking behind that curtain."
Stone's earlier political movies included "Nixon" and a highly controversial film about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, "JFK," both of which earned him Oscar nominations. He won Oscars for directing Vietnam War dramas "Platoon" and "Born on the Fourth of July."
But he suggested in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly magazine that his big-screen take on Bush may be more comical than those movies.
"This movie can be funnier because Bush is funny," he was quoted as saying. "He's awkward and goofy and makes faces all the time. He's not your average president. So let's have some fun with it."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and David Storey)