According to Variety, Leonardo DiCaprio is in negotiations to make Warner Bros. dramatic thriller The Blood Diamond his next picture. Project was originally developed by Warners-based producer Paula Weinstein, who brought aboard Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz to rewrite it.

Along the way, Zwick became so interested in the African adventure, he agreed to direct as well.

The Blood Diamond is set in Sierra Leone circa 1999, a time when the nation was in the midst of a horrific civil war. DiCaprio would play the role of a smuggler who specializes in the sale of "blood diamonds," also known as "conflict diamonds" -- the precious stones used to finance rebellions, privateers and terrorists.

When the smuggler encounters an indigenous Mende farmer whose young son has disappeared into the RUF's army of child soldiers, the two men's fates become linked. Warners is hoping to shoot "Diamond" early next year, so that DiCaprio can turn to another Warners project, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (Daily Variety, May 26).

DiCaprio is currently lensing Warners' mob thriller The Departed for helmer Martin Scorsese.

Zwick most recently helmed The Last Samurai for Warner, a pic he co-wrote and produced with Herskovitz via their Bedford Falls shingle.

Weinstein most recently produced the New Line comedy Monster-in-Law via her Spring Creek banner.