Scorsese challenge: 'Duel'

A correction was made to this article on Dec. 1, 2006.

Basking in the glow of the biggest box office success of his career with “The Departed,” Martin Scorsese is now taking on medieval France.

Under his new deal at Paramount, Scorsese will develop with an eye to direct the bigscreen adaptation of Eric Jager’s historical tome “The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal and Trial by Combat in Medieval France.”

Kevin Misher’s Par-based Misher Films is producing for the studio.

While it’s the first feature project identified for Scorsese under the Paramount pact, “Duel” won’t necessarily be his next film, say the studio and Scorsese’s reps. He’s currently shooting a docu on the Rolling Stones for Par.

Jager’s book, published by Broadway Books in 2004, tells the story of a duel that occurred in 1386 between knights Jean de Carrouges and Jacques LeGris. Duel was the last sanctioned by the French government, in this case by a young King Charles IV.

Scorsese is no stranger to period pieces, having directed “Gangs of New York” and “The Age of Innocence.”

Under his four-year first-look deal with Paramount, Scorsese will direct and produce features, direct-to-DVD, television and digital content. He will remain based in New York, with the studio providing roughly $2.5 million in overhead annually.

One unusual feature of the deal: Par has the option to co-finance and co-produce any project Scorsese does elsewhere.

Scorsese was lured by Paramount chair-CEO Brad Grey, and his former agent is Par Vantage prexy John Lesher. Scorsese is repped by Endeavor and the Firm.

Misher, who is in post production with “Case 39″ for Par, also is producing “The Day I Turned Uncool: Confessions of a Reluctant Grown-Up” for the studio, among other projects. At U, he’s producing “It Takes a Thief” and “Sub-Mariner.”

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