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McKellen inks for Whale of a biopic

Ian McKellen has committed to star in the indie project “The Father of Frankenstein,” about the life of Universal Pictures contract director James Whale, who helmed the original “Frankenstein” and its sequel “The Bride of Frankenstein,” sources said. The project, to be directed by its screenwriter, Bill Condon, is based on the novel by Christopher Bram.

The project is being produced by Paul Colichman and Mark R. Harris through Regent Entertainment in association with Gregg Feinberg. Clive Barker is executive producing. Regent Entertainment was set up about year ago by Peter Dekom and Stephen Jarchow, an investment banker and real estate magnate in Dallas.

The project was brought to Regent by Ken Harding at CAA, who represents Condon. Financing on the project is still coming together with sales agent Overseas Film Group.

McKellen is currently in pre-production on “Apt Pupil” for director Bryan Singer (“The Usual Suspects”) and won critical acclaim for his 1995 “Richard III.” He is repped by ICM’s Chris Andrews.

Whale, who also directed “Show Boat,” took his own life at the age of 67. The story is reminiscent of “Sunset Boulevard,” about a man long forgotten by Hollywood who befriends a directionless gardener and enlists his help in his own suicide. The story takes a twist on the two “Frankenstein” films that Whale directed, with the gardener analogous to the monster and McKellen’s character as the feeble, blind man who takes the monster in and tries to civilize him.

Regent recently produced “Twilight of the Golds,” which debuts March 23 on Showtime. Condon’s other credits include “Sister Sister,” which starred Jennifer Jason Leigh and Eric Stoltz, and such cable movies as “White Lie” with Gregory Hines.

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