Duo to star in TV adaptation of Melville tale

BERLIN — William Hurt and Ethan Hawke will star in a $25.5 million TV adaptation of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” for Herbert Kloiber’s Tele Munchen Group in a co-production with Robert Halmi’s RHI Ent.

Hurt will portray the fanatical, one-legged Captain Ahab, whose obsessive hunt for the legendary white whale endangers his ship and crew. Hawke will play Starbuck, the first officer of the Pequod and the only crew member who dares to oppose Ahab and his mad quest.

“Moby Dick” is the most expensive production in TMG’s 40-year history.

Mike Barker, who directed TMG’s recent adaptation of Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf,” is helming “Moby Dick” from a script by Nigel Williams, who also penned “Sea Wolf” and the 2005 HBO miniseries “Elizabeth I.”

Pic will begin shooting near Halifax, Canada, this month and continue in Malta. The event movie is due to be completed by fall 2010.

Besides RHI, TMG is partnering with German broadcaster RTL and Austrian pubcaster ORF on the latest adaptation of the literary classic, which promises state-of-the-art CGI animation to render spectacular scenes on the high seas.

“Moby Dick” is produced by Rikolt von Gagern’s Munich-based Gate Film, which produced “The Sea Wolf,” starring Sebastian Koch, Tim Roth and Neve Campbell.

The new production comes more than a decade after Patrick Stewart and Henry Thomas toplined Franc Roddam’s adaptation of “Moby Dick” for USA Networks and Hallmark Entertainment (now known as RHI). Gregory Peck starred as Ahab in John Huston’s 1956 bigscreen version.

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