De Niro will direct DiCaprio in CIA epic. ''The Good Shepherd'' will reunite the ''This Boy's Life'' stars in a history of the agency

After a long absence from the screen, Leonardo DiCaprio is suddenly very busy again. In addition to the two movies he has opening Christmas week (”Gangs of New York” and ‘”Catch Me If You Can”), he has biopics of Howard Hughes and Alexander the Great penciled in for next year. Now, Variety reports, he has yet another epic on his plate. This one, called ”The Good Shepherd,” will reunite him with Robert De Niro, who will direct.

”Shepherd” tells the story of James Wilson, a young man who is plucked out of Yale to be a spy and who becomes one of the creators of the CIA. The history of the agency is shown through the prism of his 40-year career. The character is said to be based on legendary CIA spymaster James Jesus Angleton. The screenplay is by Eric Roth, whose ”Forrest Gump” script spanned the same period.

De Niro and DiCaprio have worked together twice before, in the 1996 ”Marvin’s Room” and the 1993 ”This Boy’s Life,” which provided the younger actor with his first big-screen break. It’ll be the second directing project for De Niro, who helmed and costarred in 1993’s ‘”A Bronx Tale.” He’ll also play a small role in ”Shepherd,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie is expected to shoot next fall, though both actors have a full dance card next year. DiCaprio will reteam with ”Gangs” director Scorsese for the Hughes movie and with ”Romeo + Juliet” director Baz Luhrmann for the Alexander saga. De Niro has the ”Meet the Parents” sequel coming up and the sci-fi thriller ”Godsend.”