Scott Rudin believes in ‘Doubt’

Producer teams with Miramax for movie adaptation

Scott Rudin and Miramax are teaming to bring the Pulitzer Prize-winning Catholic-school drama “Doubt” to the bigscreen.

Playwright John Patrick Shanley will write and direct the pic, with Rudin producing via his Scott Rudin Prods. shingle.

Project is set to go into production in 2007, with the film likely lensing in the fall.

Play, which moved from Off Broadway’s Manhattan Theater Club to the Walter Kerr Theater on Broadway in 2005, won four Tonys and landed the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Shanley. It closed last summer after more than 500 perfs.

Set in 1964, “Doubt” centers on a nun who confronts a priest after suspecting him abusing a black student. He denies the charges, and much of the play’s quick-fire dialogue tackles themes of religion, morality and authority.

The black student never appears in the play, which features just four characters. But Shanley, who has finished a draft of the screenplay, plans to cast thesps in that role as well as those of other students.

A fair amount of location shooting is planned for Gotham, so the pic has the feel of a neighborhood and not simply a school, Shanley said. Play is set in the Bronx school Shanley attended.

No stars have yet been attached, but casting is set to start right away. On Broadway, Cherry Jones played the nun, Brian O’Byrne the priest.

Movie marks another collaboration between Rudin and the post-Weinstein Miramax run by Daniel Battsek. Rudin exec produced breakout hit “The Queen,” which has earned $25 million for Miramax in some 10 weeks of release and on Thursday drew four Globe noms, including for drama.

Miramax topper Battsek said the movie will be positioned similarly to its current hit. ” ‘Doubt’ peels back layers of information in an entertaining fashion that has some of the same resonances of films like ‘The Queen,’ ” he said.

Shanley’s pic credits include “Moonstruck,” which he wrote, and “Joe Versus the Volcano,” which he wrote and directed.

Shanley, who described the play as dealing with how “many of us feel overwhelmed by the complexity of modern life,” nonetheless views “Doubt” as a period pic of sorts.

“The world of these nuns is very recent and yet utterly gone,” he said. “The way they eat, they way they live. It’s very exotic.”

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