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Brokaw bags Bard bucks

Pacino in talks for key role of Shylock

CANNES — Producer Cary Brokaw has secured financing for a $25 million-$30 million feature version of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.”

Pic is being penned and will be directed by “Il Postino” helmer Michael Radford. Brokaw is in talks with Al Pacino to star as Shylock, as well as Cate Blanchett (Portia), Ian McKellen and Joseph Fiennes.

Shooting is skedded to begin Sept. 1 in Venice and Luxembourg. Pic is being financed by Matrix Film Finance, Baker Street Finance, Luxembourg’s Delux Prods. and Italy’s Instituto Luce.

Brokaw will produce pic via his Avenue Pictures shingle with Barry Navidi. Exec producers are Manfred Wilde and Michael Hammer; Julia Verdin is co-exec producing.

Pic has yet to secure an international sales agent. Discussions are under way with distributors for a North American distribution deal.

“Shakespeare’s story of conflict and religious persecution has a tremendous contemporary resonance,” said Brokaw, who said the film will be a stylized period adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.

A Maori-language version of “The Merchant of Venice” titled “Te tangata whai rawa o weneti,” was completed in early 2001.

Avenue Pictures previously produced Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” and “The Player” as well as Michael Hoffman’s “Restoration.” Other Avenue productions include the HBO’s six-hour adaptation of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” directed by Mike Nichols and starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeffrey Wright and James Cromwell.

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