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Wortmann to direct ‘Pope Joan’

Schloendorff was kicked off project in July

BERLIN — Constantin Film has tapped Soenke Wortmann to direct the bigscreen adaptation of Donna Woolfolk Cross’ 1997 medieval bestseller “Pope Joan,” after sacking helmer Volker Schloendorff last month.

Wortmann is best known for last year’s hit World Cup soccer documentary “Germany: A Summer Fairytale” and 2003’s soccer drama “The Miracle of Bern.”Production on “Pope Joan,” which recounts the ninth-century legend of a woman, disguised as a man, who ascends the papal throne, will start early next year with Franka Potente to star.

Constantin fired Schloendorff in July, six weeks before filming was due to start, after the director publicly criticized the industry’s practice of making features and extended TV versions of the feature simultaneously.

Constantin intends to make a longer, TV version of “Pope Joan.”

Pic, which has been in development for seven years, was set to start shooting in Bulgaria in May but was postponed in April after actor John Goodman exited. Constantin has filed a $3 million lawsuit against Goodman, accusing him of reneging on an agreement to appear in the film.

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