Ridley Scott joins adaptation of Harris' bestseller

BERLIN — “Pompeii” is set to erupt at Sony Pictures Television, which is partnering with Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Television, Tandem Communications and Peace Out Prods. on a four-hour miniseries adaptation of Robert Harris’ historical novel.

Project was unveiled Sunday on the eve of this week’s Mip international TV sales confab in Cannes.

“Pompeii,” which helmer Roman Polanski nearly brought to the bigscreen, follows a young Roman engineer who becomes enmeshed in politics and romance while trying to repair an aqueduct that is the lifeline of cities around the Bay of Naples. He ultimately finds himself struggling to survive the catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Polanski and Harris began developing an adaptation of the tome three years ago but the filmmaker left the project due in part to the WGA strike. Polanski went on to direct “The Ghost Writer,” also based on a Harris novel.

” ‘Pompeii’ is a strong and compelling character drama set against a backdrop of a flourishing but ultimately doomed civilization — exactly what makes great event television,” Ridley Scott said.

Helen Verno, Sony’s exec veep of movies and miniseries, described “Pompeii” as a “provocative and suspenseful” tale that “unfolds as both a love story and a thriller.”

The project continues the growing partnership between Scott Free and Tandem, the Munich-based production and sales company run by Rola Bauer and Tim Halkin.

The two companies teamed up on the upcoming TV adaptation of Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth,” set to air on Starz pay cabler, as well as the 2007 CIA mini “The Company.”

Harris’ works are hot properties for international filmmakers. Berlin-based UFA Cinema is developing a bigscreen adaptation of the author’s bestselling alternate-reality tale “Fatherland,” about a world in which Nazi Germany won WWII.

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