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Claraflora ‘Touching’ on life of rocker

Curtis bio bound for the bigscreen

Orian Williams and Todd Eckert’s Claraflora have optioned the Ian Curtis biography “Touching from a Distance” and will produce a biopic about the iconic lead singer of the Joy Division.

Written by Curtis’ widow, Deborah Curtis, “Touching From A Distance” details the life of the Joy Division front man who committed suicide in 1980 at the age of 23. The band’s surviving members reformed as New Order and continue to record and perform today.

Curtis will serve as a co-producer on the pic. Their daughter, Natalie Curtis, will likely be involved in some capacity.

Claraflora’s option comes after an eight-month negotiation with the book’s publisher, Faber & Faber. Published in 1996, the book was optioned in 2001 by Amy Hobby’s Double A Films. Although that option lapsed, producer Neil Weisman announced earlier this week that he and Hobby planned to produce an Ian Curtis biopic “based on extensive research by Hobby,” with Moby as exec producer (Daily Variety, May 18).

“We’re looking to give the world a truthful view of who Ian really was,” Eckert said. “Given his suicide, there’s so much concentration on the dark side of his life. We want to also concentrate on the energy that made people love Ian and Joy Division in the first place, while putting difficult elements such as his epilepsy into perspective. It will be a balanced approach — this isn’t the rock ‘n’ roll ‘Shine.’ ”

The producers have also met with Rebecca Boulton, New Order’s manager, regarding the band’s potential involvement in the film.

“We’re very supportive of Debbie and trust she’ll do whatever’s best with the film,” Boulton said. “Right now we’re concentrating on recording the new album, but after that’s finished we’ll definitely be looking at it.”

Claraflora plans to turn to the U.K. for both financing and talent and hopes to find a writer from Curtis’ native Manchester, England.

The life and death of Curtis was touched on in the 2002 pic “24 Hour Party People.” The Michael Winterbottom film was a biopic of Tony Wilson, who managed Joy Division and other Manchester bands.

Williams, who was an associate producer on “Shadow of the Vampire,” is producing “Tennis Anyone?” with Donal Logue as director and star.

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