September 06, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

What will Leonardo DiCaprio do next — conquer or cross-dress? The Gangs of New York star has long been circling an Alexander the Great biopic that would reteam him with Gangs director Martin Scorsese. (Oliver Stone is also developing an Alexander project, reportedly with Colin Farrell.) Scorsese now hopes to produce the Alexander film with Dino De Laurentiis — and Baz Luhrmann directing.

But sources close to the notoriously fickle actor say he’ll likely topline another long-awaited biopic this spring: The Aviator, about oddball billionaire (and part-time transvestite) Howard Hughes, to be produced by Michael Mann and directed by Scorsese himself. ”It’s the early Hughes,” the director says of the script by John Logan (Gladiator). ”It’s about his obsession with flying and women. It goes to 1946. But there are intimations of his later obsessive-compulsive disorder.” (Further muddying the waters, Insomnia auteur Christopher Nolan is writing his own Hughes script for Jim Carrey, currently shooting Bruce Almighty.)

Luhrmann, now in rehearsals for a Broadway version of La Boheme (bowing in December), may not wait for Leo the Great: An associate of the Moulin Rouge director says he’s considering other actors to play the Macedonian mack daddy, including Josh Hartnett; he’s also planning a Sept. 6 visit with Moroccan king Mohammed VI to negotiate the use of 5,000 soldiers.

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