British director in talks for Columbia remake of musical

Eliza Doolittle has finally found her Svengali.

John Madden is in talks to direct Columbia Pictures’ redo of the classic musical “My Fair Lady.”

Madden, who is completing production on the Helen Mirren starrer “The Debt” for Miramax and Marv Films, will ramp up the search for his leading lady and man in the new year.

Though Keira Knightley has been circling the project for some time, there is no formal agreement for her to play Eliza.

The pic is being produced by Duncan Kenworthy (“Love Actually,” “Notting Hill”) and London legit maven Cameron Mackintosh. CBS Films, which owns the film rights to the Lerner and Loewe musical, will co-develop.

It will draw more closely on Alan Jay Lerner’s book and the original play it is based on — George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” — than on 1964′s George Cukor-helmed Warner Bros. film starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

Kenworthy and Mackintosh intend to shoot the film, which will retain the tuner’s score and 1912 setting, in the original London locations — Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Tottenham Court Road, Wimpole Street — plus Ascot racecourse.

Helmers including Danny Boyle, Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Daldry have been previously linked to the film project.

Mackintosh has produced two stage revivals of “My Fair Lady,” the first in 1979 with Lerner directing and a second incarnation that opened in the West End in 2001.

“My Fair Lady,” with book and lyrics by Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, was first staged in 1956, featuring Julie Andrews and Harrison.

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