Washington, Whitaker Team for 'Debaters'

Oprah WinfreyDenzel WashingtonForest WhitakerKeanu Reeves

Multiple-Oscar winner Denzel Washington will direct the Academy's newest Golden Boy Forest Whitaker in "The Great Debaters."

Shooting on the suddenly fast-tracked "The Great Debaters," is set to begin in Louisiana next month. Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films is producing along with Todd Black and Joe Roth on the Weinstein Co. release, according to the industry trade papers.

This will be Washington's first time behind the camera since 2002's "Antwone Fisher" and as with that film, the "Training Day" and "American Gangster" star will also play a key role.

In this case, Washington will play a debating coach leading a team of students from a small East Texas college against the mighty Harvard debating team in the 1930s. Whitaker will play the father of one of the master debaters.

Inspired by a true story, "The Great Debaters" was written by Robert Eisele.

Since winning his first Oscar for "The Last King of Scotland," Whitaker has begun work on the ensemble "Winged Creatures." He's also expected to join Keanu Reeves in the long-gestating "The Night Watchman" for Fox Searchlight.

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