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Summit among those who could play 'Fair Game'

April 22, 2010 |  4:47 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Sean Penn and the studio of "Twilight"?

For the last few days, several distributors have been circling the Joe Wilson-Valerie Plame drama "Fair Game," in which Penn stars as the truth-telling diplomat and Naomi Watts stars as Plame, his outed CIA agent wife. But one company has emerged as the lead contender to land the film about that ignoble chapter in American history -- and it's an interesting one.

Summit Entertainment, the mini-major best known for distributing the films in the Kristen Stewart vampire franchise, has an offer on the table. Although no deal is in place and several other studios are still in the mix -- these types of negotiations are famous for twisting in unexpected directions --  at the moment it looks as though Summit could well walk away with North American distribution rights.

Pen The deal would make sense on a number of levels. Although Summit is best known for commercial fare such as "Twilight," it got a pretty strong taste of awards glory when "The Hurt Locker" -- a movie about the Iraq war that it also acquired around the time of a major festival (after Toronto) -- captured the Academy Awards for best picture and director last month. Doug Liman's "Fair Game" is more overtly political and less action-oriented, but one can certainly imagine the company building a campaign around this one too, mobilizing critics and a certain group of tastemakers (and provoking certain Fox News pundits).

Summit will be peddling international rights to the film at the Cannes Film Festival next month via its foreign-sales arm. Could it also soon be readying a 2010 awards campaign?

--Steven Zeitchik

(Follow me on Twitter.)

Photo: Sean Penn and Naomi Watts in "Fair Game." Credit: River Road Entertainment