Williams sails as ‘Pianist’

Clarence Williams III will dive into Laurence Fishburne’s vacated slot in Fine Line Features’ “The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean,” sources said Friday.

Fishburne dropped out of the pic last week, citing scheduling conflicts with the Warner Bros. project “Matrix.” Sources said Warner was unwilling to allow Fishburne to take the extra time for sister company Fine Line’s pic.

Williams is now set to star as legendary musician Jelly Roll Morton opposite Tim Roth and Pruitt Taylor Vince when the pic shoots later this month in Rome.

Williams is currently experiencing a career resurgence with new roles in several features. The former “Mod Squad” member is also in Universal’s “Half-Baked,” Shooting Gallery’s “Frogs for Snakes,” the Johnny Depp-helmed “The Brave” and John Frankenheimer’s cable telepic “Wallace.”

Williams also recently co-starred in “Hoodlum,” which coincidentally featured Fishburne, Roth and Andy Garcia.

The Fine Line pic, based on a theatrical monologue by Alessandro Baricco, is about a baby abandoned on an ocean liner who grows up to become a musician who lives on the ship.

Giuseppe Tornatore (“Cinema Paradiso”) is helming in his English-language feature debut.

Fine Line president Ruth Vitale is overseeing the project, which also shot last month in the Ukraine.

Williams is repped by Glenn Robbins of Abrams Artists and managed by Peg Donegan.

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