Lakeshore, Benton team for ‘Human Stain’

Hopkins, Kidman topline Roth adaptation

Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman will star for director Robert Benton in Lakeshore Entertainment’s “The Human Stain,” based on the Philip Roth novel.

Pic, adapted by Nicholas Meyer (“Sommersby”), is expected to start shooting in March.

Lakeshore is negotiating with Miramax Films to distribute the film domestically and will handle all international distribution rights as well. Lakeshore is financing, with toppers Tom Rosenberg and chairman Gary Lucchesi producing, along with Scott Steindorf. Company optioned Roth’s novel last year and has developed project inhouse.

Set against the backdrop of the 1998 Clinton impeachment scandal, “Stain” takes place in a small New England town. An aging classics professor is forced to retire when his colleagues label him a racist. But the charge is untrue, and it leads to dramatic revelations about the professor, kept hidden for 50 years. Among them: that the professor had an adulterous affair with a 34-year old cleaning woman.

“When I first read the book, I knew the film would be an enormous challenge — but one that I was determined to take on,” said Rosenberg. “Coleman Silk’s driving characteristic is a will to define himself and his life without bending to societal constraints. We have the perfect creative team to realize the story as Roth envisioned it.”

Lucchesi added: “I first met Benton when I was a young executive working on ‘Places in the Heart.’ Nick Meyer was a client of mine when I was an agent, so it’s very gratifying that my past creative experiences have come together in such an extraordinary project.”

Benton met with Kidman Thursday to discuss the movie. The two worked together on 1991’s “Billy Bathgate,” one of Kidman’s first roles in the U.S.

Hopkins, Kidman and Benton are all repped by CAA.

Roth’s “Goodbye, Columbus” and “Portnoy’s Complaint” were previously adapted for the screen. The author won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for “American Pastoral,” which is being developed for film by producer Lynda Obst. Benton last helmed “Twilight” and “Nobody’s Fool.”

Upcoming Lakeshore projects include “The Mothman Prophecies”and Paramount’s “The Hunted.”

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