He'll make directorial debut with adaptation pic

NEW YORK — Hot off starring for TriStar alongside Anthony Hopkins in the big-budget actioner “The Mask of Zorro,” Antonio Banderas has been set by the same studio to make his feature directing debut this spring on “Crazy in Alabama,” an adaptation of a Mark Childress novel that will star his wife, Melanie Griffith.

The film will begin production in late April.

The novel, published by Putnam in 1993, is set in the ’60s at the height of racial tensions in Alabama. It’s the coming-of-age story of an orphan named Peejoe who is raised by his eccentric aunt, who will be played by Griffith. The budget’s about $15 million and the producers are Linda Goldstein, Diane Sillan and Debra Hill.

CAA’s Manny Nunez reps Banderas.

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