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Spielberg to direct Munich Olympics film

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who won his first Oscar for the Holocaust drama ”Schindler’s List,” has taken on another tragic moment in modern Jewish history as his next project -- the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Spielberg plans to start production in June and is eyeing actor Ben Kingsley for a role in the upcoming drama, which will chronicle the Summer Games marred by the kidnapping and slaying of Israeli athletes by Palestinian militants, a DreamWorks studio spokeswoman said Wednesday.

In all, 11 Israelis lost their lives in the bloody 1972 tragedy, including nine hostages killed in a botched rescue attempt at a military air base outside Munich, all while Olympics officials carried on with the competition. Five of the gunmen and a German policeman also died. Three of the militants were captured alive.

The specter of the massacre 32 years ago has haunted authorities in Greece preparing security for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Athens amid heightened concerns of potential attacks by extremists linked to the al Qaeda terror network.

Details of the as-yet-untitled film have been kept shrouded in secrecy as Spielberg pins down European locations for the production, the studio spokeswoman said.

She said the screenplay will be written by Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for his “Forrest Gump” script and was nominated for “The Insider.” The film is to be released domestically by Universal Pictures, a unit of Vivendi Universal , and overseen by Spielberg’s home studio, DreamWorks SKG. No release date has been set.

It was not clear what role Kingsley might take. He previously co-starred in “Schindler’s List,” which earned Spielberg Academy Awards for best picture and best director. Spielberg won his second directing Oscar for the World War II film, “Saving Private Ryan.”

The Munich Olympics debacle also was the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “One Day in September” (2000) as well as the 1976 television dramatization, “21 Hours at Munich.”

Spielberg was last in theaters with the caper film “Catch Me If You Can” and his next movie, “The Terminal,” starring Tom Hanks as a Russian immigrant stranded in a U.S. airport, is due for release in June.

After finishing the Munich Olympics film, Spielberg plans to direct a project titled “The Rivals,” followed by a big-screen adaptation of H.G. Wells’ alien invasion tale, “War of the Worlds,” starring Tom Cruise, Daily Variety reported.

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