Newell digs ‘Gardner’

U.K. tax funds, Film Council may co-finance $25 mil pic

LONDON — Mike Newell will direct “The Constant Gardener,” an adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel that is being developed by Simon Channing-Williams at Pot Boiler Films.

The $25 million pic, scripted by Jeffrey Caine (“GoldenEye”), is the story of a British diplomat in Kenya whose wife is murdered alongside a local medical campaigner, with whom she was traveling on a bush trip.

Amid rumors of his wife’s infidelity, the diplomat is jerked out of his passive complacency and driven to uncover the conspiracy behind her death. Le Carre’s novel is a scathing indictment of the influence of Western pharmaceutical companies in the Third World.

Newell, now editing Julia Roberts starrer “Mona Lisa Smile,” will take a producer credit on “Gardener,” which is scheduled to shoot early in 2004.

Talks are under way with U.K. tax funds and with the Film Council to co-finance the movie. Shooting will take place primarily on location in Africa, though precisely where has yet to be determined.

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