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‘Opus Dei’ basks in ‘Da Vinci’ halo

Doc to take honest look at mysterious org

NEW YORK — The first documentary to bask in the halo of the May 2006 theatrical release of “The Da Vinci Code” is a two-hour, $700,000 investigative work called “Decoding Opus Dei.”

Opus Dei, a worldwide Catholic org founded in 1928, is so publicity shy that it has become a catchall for all sorts of conspiracy theories. Dan Brown, author of “Da Vinci Code,” used the real group in his novel, but created a fictional Opus Dei monk who commits multiple murders to prevent the secret of the Holy Grail from coming to light.

Ken Mandel, executive producer of Great Projects Film Co., which is producing the docu, said he met the American press officer of Opus Dei through a friend and found the org was looking for an experienced filmmaker to do a fair and honest report that would remove some of the mystery surrounding the group.

“Opus Dei is giving me extraordinary access,” Mandel said, “but I have complete editorial control. I’m not in the business of hagiography.”

Filming hasn’t begun yet, but Gary Lico, president and CEO of Cable Ready, the worldwide distributor of the docu, said he’s going to start selling it abroad based on a detailed print treatment drawn up by Mandel.

Because all the broadcast networks have done reports on controversies spawned by “Da Vinci Code,” Lico said his first pitches in the U.S. will be to ABC, CBS and NBC.

Columbia Pictures plans to release the “Da Vinci Code” movie, directed by Ron Howard, on May 19.

Great Projects has produced numerous docus for PBS, A&E, Discovery, History Channel and AMC.

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