Pic's a contempo take on bawdy medieval tales
As Woody Allen’s next pic preps for a summer shoot, new details are emerging about his Rome-set project, which goes under the working title “Bop Decameron.”Pic, with Roberto Benigni in advanced talks to join the ensemble cast, is a major creative departure in Allen’s work and his first — albeit partial — foray into Italian-language filmmaking. Allen and his longtime producers, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, along with Helen Robin, have been sticking strictly to the secrecy code for which Allen is well known. However, Variety has learned that the pic, set in contempo Rome, is loosely inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron,” the classic collection of 100 bawdy novellas written in the 1350s, and consists of four separate vignettes. Two are stories with American characters set in Rome, while the other two involve Italian characters, also set in Rome. The vignettes never intersect. It is not known whether Allen’s “Bop Decameron” is inspired by 1962 Italo portmanteau pic “Boccaccio ’70,” one episode of which was directed by Federico Fellini. But there appear to be striking similarities. “Boccaccio ’70” depicted different aspects of morality and love in modern times. Allen has previously worked in Italian, directing composer Giacomo Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” the comic part of his “Trittico” of three operatic shorts, for the Los Angeles Opera in 2007. As previously announced, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz and Alec Baldwin are attached to star in “Bop Decameron.” Allen, who is directing from his own screenplay, has also confirmed he will play a role, his first onscreen appearance since 2006’s “Scoop.” For Benigni, whose contract is not yet signed, Allen’s pic will mark a rare instance of his working in a film that he is not also directing. Before “Life Is Beautiful,” which he directed and starred in, Benigni toplined Jim Jarmusch’s “Down by Law” and Blake Edwards’ “Son of the Pink Panther.” It is not known whether Allen and Benigni will appear in the same vignette. Other Italian talent remains to be cast. A July 11 start is planned for the shoot, which line producer David Nichols (“The Tourist”) is organizing in tandem with Cinecitta Studios. Cinecitta Studios will provide production services to the pic, which will shoot in Rome, but probably not on its backlot. The film, which is financed by Italy’s Medusa, is applying for the 25% Italian tax rebate for foreign productions. Several media outlets had announced that Allen’s next pic was titled “The Wrong Picture,” which Allen reportedly denied.