UPI talks money for Pratchett’s ‘Mort’

Scala to produce adaptation of comic fantasy

CANNES — Universal Pictures Intl. is in talks to finance an adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy bestseller “Mort,” which will be produced by Nik Powell’s Scala Prods.

The script is being penned by Larry Wilson, whose credits include “Beetlejuice,” “The Addams Family” and “Sleepless Beauty.”

“Mort” is one of the most popular episodes in Pratchett’s vast series of Discworld novels.

Set in a world the shape of a plate which rests on four elephants standing on a giant turtle swimming through space, “Mort” is the story of Death and the hapless apprentice he hires to give him a break from the job.

Things become complicated when the boy, Mort, falls for Death’s adopted daughter and mistakenly kills an assassin instead of the intended victim, putting the entire fabric of existence in jeopardy.

Pratchett’s Discworld books have won a huge worldwide cult readership with their blend of sword-and-sorcery fantasy and juvenile humor. There have been a few attempts to adapt Discworld stories for TV, but this is the first feature film.

UPI, formerly Polygram Filmed Entertainment Intl., has informally agreed to back the project, but no deal has yet been inked, and no director is attached.