McCormack to star and helm 'Cork' period romance

CANNES — The directorial debut of actress Catherine McCormack and a pic by Nicholas Hytner, both based on scripts by William Boyd, top the development slate of London-based Haystack Films.

Haystack — the shingle of former Polygram execs Xavier Marchand, Debbie Borderstone and Jane Moore — will start production July 30 on its first movie, “Dirty Deeds,” starring Bryan Brown.

McCormack is prepping “Cork,” in which she also will star, which Boyd has adapted from his own short story. It’s a period romance about the emotional awakening of an Englishwoman who goes to run a cork plantation in Portugal after the death of her husband.

Hytner is attached to direct “The Blue Afternoon,” a $20 million-$30 million love story set in the Philippines in 1902 at the end of the Spanish-American War. Again, Boyd is adapting from his own novel.

Production is tentatively scheduled for spring 2002, after Hytner has launched his musical stage version of “Sweet Smell of Success” on Broadway. Haystack is developing the project with producer Steve Clark-Hall and Pathe.

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