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Salomon/Letelier banner draws on ‘Masterpiece’

Zola novel's adaptation 1st project for new prod'n co.

New York-based television producer Harris Salomon and Chilean film director/producer Gustavo Letelier have formed a new production entity, Salomon/Letelier-Manhattan Filmworks, aimed at producing television programs and feature films.

The first project to go under the New York-based banner is a feature adaptation of Emile Zola’s 19th century novel “The Masterpiece,” a fictional account of the life of artist Paul Cezanne, with whom the author was best friends.

Set in turn-of-the-century Paris, the story uses the fictitious character Claude Lantier to tell Cezanne’s life story as he strives to create perfection on canvas. “Masterpiece” will examine his early years heading a wild pack of young Parisian artists, his love affairs, the evolution of his work and his eventual self-destruction. Letelier will direct and exec produce the pic.

Salomon said he read Zola’s novel after prompting from a colleague and was drawn to the story’s contemporary feel. He described the novel as “very commercial and very much an art property.” Salomon/Letelier-Manhattan Filmworks has two writers readying a script, and the producers are consulting with a London-based art historian.

Casting is expected to be finalized early next year, with production skedded to begin next summer. Lensing will take place in France and Canada. L.A.-based co-producer David Blake is handling the project’s financing, hoping to secure the bulk of it overseas.

Letelier made his debut a few years ago with the Chilean film “Even in the Best of Families” and is in production on the art film “The Three Seasons of the Year.”

Salomon has a string of TV credits that include news, daytime talk and reality programming. He has done stints for the Travel Channel and Comedy Central and was a writer/producer at ABC and CBS News.