In another sign that the town is waking up from the slumber brought on by the WGA strike, Columbia has pre-emptively plunked down low-seven figures for The Long Run from writer Stephen Belber.

Will Smith will produce via his Overbrook banner, although he's not set to star.

The script centers on a journalist who helps exonerate a highly charismatic death row inmate of a crime he didn't commit. When the former inmate is recruited to run for elected office, the journalist leaves his post to orchestrate his rise to political prominence but soon faces a crisis of conscience as he discovers that his friend might be guilty of murder after all.

Playwright Belber wrote the script before directing his feature debut, the Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy Management, which he helmed during the strike.