Creative trio added to ‘Pinocchio’

Benigni to star in most expensive Italian film

CANNES — Pinocchio is firming his team, with no strings attached.

Production designer Danilo Donati, cinematographer Dante Spinotti and composer Nicola Piovanni have been added to “Pinocchio,” whose $45 million budget makes it the most expensive Italian film ever.

The pic will star and be directed by Roberto Benigni. It’s produced by Elda Ferri and Gianluigi Braschi for Melampo Cinematografica, with Mario Cotone executive producing.

Benigni and the others, including director of Miramax Italy Fabrizio Lombardo, were here Monday to kick off meetings with Miramax overseas honcho Rick Sands and potential international distribs, many of whom also handled “Life Is Beautiful.”

Miramax has the pic globally except for Italy, where it will be distributed by the Cecchi Gori Group.

The pic starts shooting this summer, targeted for a launch in 2002. Benigni plays the title role and Nicoletta Braschi plays the Blue Fairy.

Oscar winner Donati (Fellini’s “Casanova”) is building sets in a converted former factory near Terni, where “Beautiful” was shot.

The pic, written by Benigni and Vincenzo Cerami, marks Spinotti’s first work in Italy in six years, after shooting such U.S. pics as “The Insider” and “Wonder Boys.”