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Ivory/Capitol enlists Nolte for ‘Soldier’

Merchant Ivory Prods. and Capitol films announced a new alliance Tuesday at the American Film Market, indicating an indie path for the arthouse writing-directing-producing team previously aligned with the Walt Disney Co.

Their first joint effort will be a feature film starring Nick Nolte (who starred in Merchant Ivory’s “Jefferson in Paris”), based on “A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries,” the novel by Kaylie Jones. Published by Bantam in 1990, the book is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a young girl whose writer father lives in Paris and Southampton on Long Island in the 1960s, not unlike the author’s own father, novelist James Jones.

James Ivory (“Howard’s End”) is set to direct the project from an adaptation by Ivory and frequent Merchant Ivory collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, with Merchant producing.

The co-financing deal extends the Capitol/Merchant Ivory relationship beyond their teaming in Partners In Film, a consortium recently formed to compete for British lottery funding, along with Guiness Mahon Bank, First Independent Distributors and Thorn EMI .

Merchant told Daily Variety that “Soldier’s Daughter” would not be a lottery-funded film, as it is beginning pre-production shortly for a June shoot and the funding has not yet been awarded. But anyway he said the partnership with Capitol was not based on lottery funding. “Whether the lottery works or not, the relationship will go on,” he said.

“We love their films,” said co-managing director Jane Barclay. “They are commercial and they work in the marketplace.”

Merchant said that “The Playmaker,” to be directed by Bruce Beresford, will be the last project under their 1992 first-look pact with Disney. Warner Bros. backed “Surviving Picasso,” Merchant Ivory’s most recent effort, which stars Anthony Hopkins.

Capitol is debuting three films at AFM, including “The Truce” starring John Turturro, “Nirvana” with Christopher Lambert,” and “Kiss Me Guido,” which Paramount has picked up for domestic distribution. Capitol also is showing footage of “The Winter Guest” with Emma Thompson and “Wilde,” which stars Stephen Fry and Vanessa Redgrave.

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