Rudin brings Egyptian queen back to bigscreen

Based on a 10-page proposal, Columbia Pictures has acquired screen rights to “Cleopatra,” a new take on the life of the Egyptian queen that will be written by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff. Scott Rudin will produce the adaptation.

Schiff has made a seven-figure publishing deal for “Cleopatra” with Little Brown and will complete the tome in 2009.

The last time Hollywood tackled “Cleopatra” in a big way, the result was one of the most expensive films ever, a 1963 symbol of decadence best remembered for a torrid affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who were married to others at the time.

Schiff’s proposal makes it clear she intends to dispel the movie myths that focused on pageantry and Cleopatra’s skills as a seductress.

Book will present her as a firm ruler and military tactician who embarked on a ruthless rise to power. Cleopatra twice married brothers, killing each of them as well as a sister. Romantic alliances with the much-older Roman honchos Julius Caesar and Marc Antony helped her solidify power, but her dalliance with Antony undid both of them.

While Rudin’s deal is at Disney and Miramax, he is working with Columbia on period drama “The Other Boleyn Girl.”Schiff won the Pulitzer for “Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)” and also wrote “Saint-Exupery: A Biography” and most recently “A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America.”

CAA and Janklow & Nesbit repped the book.

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