Harris to star in Donleavy pic

LONDON — A film version of J.P. Donleavy’s comic novel “The Ginger Man,” adapted by the author himself, is the highlight of the latest production slate from IAC Films, the London-based sales company.

Jared Harris (“Happiness”) will star as Sebastian Dangerfield, an American ex-soldier who arrives in 1950s Dublin to study law, but embarks instead on a bawdy odyssey of gonzo drinking, gambling and sexual escapades.

No director has been attached to the $10 million project, which is being produced by Donleavy’s son Philip and Bob Mitchell. Filming is scheduled for early 1999 in Dublin and the Isle of Man.

IAC’s Guy Collins is finalizing the financing. Backers include the Isle of Man Film Commission, Irish tax shelter funds and private equity raised by the producers.

“The Ginger Man,” first published in 1955, is one of the most successful comic novels of the post-war period, selling an estimated 40 million copies worldwide.

‘Dead Man’ leads slate

IAC has also boarded “Interview With a Dead Man,” an Anglo-Canuck-Spanish production that starts shooting next month. Roseanna Arquette stars alongside Simon Callow, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Brenda Fricker and Assumpta Serna in a $6 million thriller directed by Brit helmer Stuart St. Paul.

Based on an original screenplay by Anne and Susie Mitchell, it’s the story of a woman who discovers her husband has been leading a double life after he is killed in what appears to be a car accident. The co-producers are Paragraph Pictures in the U.K., Palm Tree Prods. in Spain and Publivision in Canada, with German rights pre-sold to Helkon Media.

“The Silencing” is another thriller on the IAC slate, co-produced by Brit company Meltemi with Germany’s Advanced Film. This $5.5 million project will be directed by Bharat Nalluri from a script by Evan Jones, about a retired political assassin well into his 60s who is blackmailed to do one last job. The pic will shoot early next year in London, Berlin and Athens.

IAC also has a firm start date of March 8 for production of “Nora,” the $10 million film about Irish writer James Joyce, to star Ewan McGregor and Susan Lynch.

Written and directed by Pat Murphy, the pic is being produced by Natural Nylon, in which McGregor is a partner, along with Germany’s Road Movies, Ireland’s Volta Films and Italy’s Gam Films.

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