‘Quills’ nears ink

Kaufman in talks to helm Marquis de Sade pic

Philip Kaufman is near a deal to helm Fox Searchlight Pictures’ feature version of Douglas Wright’s play “Quills,” a cogitation on the infamous Marquis de Sade.

Wright also penned the screenplay, a drama that focuses on the flamboyant de Sade and his battle of wills with a brilliant young priest for the love of a beautiful young woman.

Industry Entertainment’s Julia Chasman and Nick Wechsler will produce along with Kaufman’s son Peter.

Searchlight’s Joe Pichirallo is overseeing the project for the Fox specialized division.

Casting about

With Kaufman onboard, Searchlight is expected to begin casting and budgeting the film, possibly for a spring start.

Following its Obie-winning run in 1995, “Quills” attracted a great deal of attention in both the theater and film communities before it was picked up by Searchlight in April 1996.

Kaufman, who is repped by the William Morris Agency, has directed such pics as “The Right Stuff,” “Henry & June” and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” but he has not gotten behind the camera since the 1993 Fox film “Rising Sun.”