Roberts, Ruffalo set for ‘Normal Heart’

Thesps to star in HBO film based on Larry Kramer play

Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo are set to star in the HBO film “The Normal Heart,” based on the Tony Award-winning play from Larry Kramer.

Ryan Murphy will direct and Kramer will write the telepic.

The play centers on the AIDS epidemic in New York in the early 1980s. Lead character Ned Weeks, based on Kramer himself, employs a very vocal approach to combatting and raising awareness of the disease.

Following an Off Brodaway run in 1985, “The Normal Heart” finally arrived on Broadway in 2011.

Production on the telepic is set to begin in New York later this year, with a 2014 air date.

Roberts will play a paraplegic physician who treats some of the earliest AIDS patients. Ruffalo portrays Weeks and “White Collar” star Matt Bomer tackles the character of Felix Turner, a reporter who becomes Weeks’ lover.

Murphy previously directed Roberts in the 2010 film “Eat Pray Love,” which was adapted from the bestselling book.

HBO has announced premiere dates and months for a handful of projects.

Five-part miniseries “Parade’s End,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall, will debut Feb. 26 and run for three nights. British love story is set during the period from the twilight years of the Edwardian era to the conclusion of World War I.

Mini was adapted from a series of Ford Madox Ford novels by Tom Stoppard and directed by Susanna White.

A handful of docs have been pegged for the months ahead:

•”American Winter,” about the current economic crisis (March);

•”50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus” which focuses on a couple who saved children during the Holocaust (April);

•”Which Way Is the Frontline From Here?: The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington” about the war photographer and filmmaker who was killed in 2011 (April);

•”Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden” (May);

•”Tales From the Organ Trade,” regarding the black market demand for human organs (May).

Newsmagazine series “Vice” will debut in spring. Show, exec produced by Bill Maher, Shane Smith and Eddy Moretti, looks at current events that may be overlooked by the media.

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