George Clooney has landed the financing to return to the director's chair.  Exclusive Media Group and Cross Creek Pictures ("Black Swan") announced today they will finance and co-produce "The Ides of March" which Clooney will direct and star in.

A passion product of Clooney's as well as longtime collaborator Grant Heslov, "March" is an adaptation of Beau Willimon's critically acclaimed play "Farragut North" which debuted on Broadway in 2008. Clooney has recruited Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Woods to star in the film so far. 

"March centers on a young press spokesman (Gosling) who becomes intertwined in dirty politics and is seduced by a young intern (Wood).  Clooney will play the spokesman's candidate, Giamatti is a rival campaign manager and Tomei is on board as a reporter for the New York Times.

Leonard DiCaprio's Appian Way is also co-producing the project, but it DiCaprio won't appear in the film at this time.

Clooney recently starred in the modest hit "The American."  He'll return to the big screen sometime next year in Alexander Payne's "The Descendants."

There is no domestic distributor at this time, but "March" and its cast has no doubt peaked interest among many studios and independent distributors.  It's clearly the sort of prestige project that defines the term "Oscar bait."  And don't worry, it's already on many pundits lists for 2012.

Production is expected to being in Michigan and Ohio this February.

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