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Danny Strong to direct Salinger biopic

Danny Strong, the screenwriter who penned the scripts for The Butler and the next two Hunger Games films, will make his directorial debut with Salinger’s War.

As first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, Strong had optioned Kenneth Slawensk’s biography about the Catcher in the Rye author, J.D. Salinger: A Life, and wrote the screenplay on spec. The adaptation will focus on a younger Salinger, an ambitious New York writer who is pulled into World War II after Pearl Harbor and encounters horrors in Europe that will forever change him and his writing.

Strong won two Emmys for the HBO movie Game Change, and fans of Mad Men know him as the diminutive Danny Siegel, who famously popped Roger Sterling in the groin. As an actor, Strong also had memorable runs on Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Filmmaker Shane Salerno, who directed a recent documentary about Salinger, is currently working on a rival biopic with The Weinstein Company.


Casting Net: Nic Cage in talks to star in more mainstream 'Left Behind' reboot. Plus: David Oyelowo, Kara Hayward

David Oyelowo (The Help, The Butler) is attached to play famed boxer Sugar Ray Robinson in a biopic based on the biography Sweet Thunder: The Life And Times Of Sugar Ray Robinson by Wil Haygood. Game Change writer Danny Strong, fresh off of his Emmy win for the HBO movie, and Moneyball producer Rachael Horovitz will produce, with Oyelowo as executive producer. Haygood wrote a script draft, and Strong may do a rewrite, according to who’s chosen as director. [Deadline]

• Kara Hayward, the up-and-coming actress so doe-eyed yet serious in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, has joined the cast of another kind of teen flick, The Sisterhood of Night. Caryn Waechter is directing from a screenplay by Marilyn Wu, adapted from a short story by Steven Millhauser. Hayward takes on the role of a girl who exposes a secret society embedded within her New Jersey junior high, a contemporary take on witch hunts in New England. [Deadline]

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'Game Change' writer Danny Strong in talks to pen 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay'

From the (figurative) cutthroat world of American politics to the (literal) cutthroat world of Panem: EW has confirmed that Danny Strong — who won an Emmy last month for writing the HBO movie Game Change about the 2008 G.O.P. presidential campaign — is in talks to adapt Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay for the two-part finale of The Hunger Games saga. Part one of Mockingjay is already set for theaters on Nov. 21, 2014; part two on Nov. 20, 2015.

Though Strong began his career as an actor on shows like Buffy the Vampire SlayerGilmore Girls, and Mad Men, the Hunger Games gig cements him as one of the most sought-after working writers in Hollywood. His first writing credit was for the HBO movie Recount, about the 2000 presidential recount battle, and his upcoming projects include co-writer-director Lee Daniels’ life-in-the-White-House biopic The Butler, and the adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestseller The Lost Symbol.

Between Strong’s ability to refashion complicated narratives into a feature film timeframe and his clear affinity for stories with a robust political bent, he makes for a strong choice to handle Mockingjay‘s thorny tale of uprising and betrayal.

Variety first broke the news. Lionsgate had no comment.

Read more:
‘Catching Fire': Lionsgate reveals rest of cast for ‘Hunger Games’ sequel
Where could ‘Mockingjay’ be split into two parts?
‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’: Meet the Cast!

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