With Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson (Ali, Nixon) having rewritten Peter Morgan‘s screenplay of a long-discussed, long-developed Freddy Mercury biopic to which Sacha Baron Cohen is attached to star and co-produce, Cohen and producer Graham King are after Stephen Frears (The Queen) to direct.

That’s the gist of Jeff Sneider‘s 5.8 Variety story, as far as I can discern. He includes a statement that Baron Cohen’s deal to play Mercury “is expected to close in the coming weeks.” But the Frears aspect seems (a) a wee bit flaky as “negotiations have not yet begun” and (b) a wee bit underwhelming as Frears has been doing a fairly good job of convincing his admirers that he may not be the same guy who directed Prick Up Your Ears, The Hit, My Beautiful Laundrette and The Grifters any more, certainly after directing tripe like last year’s Tamara Drewe and the allegedly unexceptional Lay The Favorite (which I missed at last January’s Sundance Film Festival).

The story “focuses on Queen’s formative years and climaxes with the band’s heralded appearance at Live Aid in 1985,” Sneider writes. Translation: SBC’s Mercury won’t waste away and die of AIDS as the film “won’t focus on the singer’s last days.”