‘Kinsey’ eyes partners

Neeson, Linney, O'Donnell, McKellen to star in sexy pic

This article was corrected on July 13, 2003.

LONDON — Michael Kuhn’s Qwerty Films is in advanced negotiations to finance “Kinsey,” Bill Condon’s biopic of seminal sexologist Alfred Kinsey. Fox Searchlight will distribute.

Liam Neeson will play the Indiana U. professor whose research in the 1940s and ’50s blew the lid off America’s bedroom habits and helped usher in the sexual revolution.

Despite his own strict Methodist upbringing, Kinsey and his wife experimented with many of the activities he chronicled in his pioneering studies.

Laura Linney and Chris O’Donnell fill out the cast.

Producer Gail Mutrux developed the project with American Zoetrope and Myriad Pictures. Myriad, which remains on board to handle foreign sales, took it to Fox and Qwerty after the original U.S. deal with United Artists fell through.

Myriad topper Kirk D’Amico and American Zoetrope’s Bobby Rock and Francis Ford Coppola, along with Kuhn are exec producers.

Pic was initially envisaged as a Canadian co-production, but those plans foundered over Neeson’s reluctance to shoot in Toronto. Pre-production starts this month in New York.

London-based Qwerty, which is bankrolled by a German film fund, has a long-term deal with 20th Century Fox for distribution in North America and selected foreign territories.

“Kinsey” is the fifth film to be backed by Kuhn’s shingle, following the low-budget Brit cricket pic “Wondrous Oblivion,” Fox’s Heath Ledger vehicle “The Order,” David O. Russell’s “I Love Huckabee’s” (also with Fox Searchlight) and Artisan’s Richard Eyre project “Compleat Female Stage Beauty.”

Qwerty recently came close to backing ancient Greek drama “The Return,” which Neil Jordan was due to direct, but that project stalled in casting and Jordan is no longer attached.

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