James Franco True StoryJonah Hill True StoryEXCLUSIVE: New Regency has made a deal to fully finance True Story. That is the Rupert Goold-directed adaptation of a memoir by Michael Finkel, a disgraced New York Times journalist who discovered that an accused murderer had stolen his identity. Once caught, the fugitive would only talk to the journalist. Jonah Hill is playing Finkel and James Franco is set to play Christian Longo, who was captured in Mexico after rising near the top of the FBI Ten Most Wanted List for allegedly killing his family. Production will begin in July and Fox will distribute. Dave Kajganich wrote the script.

True Story MoviePlan B’s Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt will produce with New Regency. It’s a fascinating and bizarre true story. Finkel was a writer at The New York Times Magazine in 2002 when he learned of Longo’s capture and that the accused killer had taken the journo’s name. The very next day, the real Finkel was fired by Times editors, right after they ran an editor’s note declaring that he had falsified parts of an investigative article. His career seemingly over, Finkel was given a shot at some redemption when Longo declared that Finkel was the only journalist he would talk to. That led to a surreal relationship with the accused murderer, who was trying to declare his innocence. Unraveling the mystery was a chance for Finkel to salvage something of his career.

The deal gives the reconstituted New Regency another star-driven project. Among other projects, the producer-financier teamed with Paramount has closed its deal with Russell Crowe to star in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah for a July 23 start and Regency also has Pitt committed to star in The Gray Man, the James Gray-directed adaptation of the Mark Greaney thriller novel that is expected to start production later this year or early next.