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Redford taxis to Nat’l Geo’s ‘Aloft’

Sundancer to star in, produce tale of bird trackers

Robert Redford has committed to star in the feature adaptation of Alan Tennant’s nonfiction book “Aloft” for National Geographic Films.

Erik Jendresen is penning the pic, which National Geographic is producing with Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises and Sunflower Prods.

Redford, Jake Eberts, Sunflower’s Terrence Malick and Ed Pressman will produce along with Karen Tenkhoff and National Geographic’s Christine Whitaker.

As yet no director has come onboard to helm. It is also unclear if pic will use Redford’s first-look deal at Warner Bros.

“Aloft” is the true story of Tennant’s adventures with an irascible down-on-his-luck pilot (Redford) as they resort to unconventional means to track the international flight path of the North American peregrine falcon in a plane equipped with Army high-tech listening devices.

Pressman said Malick introduced him to Tennant on a birding trip in the Caribbean after which Malick and Pressman approached Redford to become involved in the pic. Producers then decided to team up with Eberts and National Geo.

Book was purchased by Knopf last year for close to $650,000 after Tennant used a slide show to pitch publishers his story.

” ‘Aloft’ is a great buddy adventure tale with a unique scientific spin as these two irrepressible characters are chased by the American Army, the Canadian Mounted Police, South American drug lords and Mexican bandits. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction, and in Alan Tennant’s book, it is also a lot of fun,” Eberts said.

National Geographic begins production this fall with Hyde Park Entertainment on director Gregory Hoblit’s “Emperor Zehnder,” starring Richard Gere.

Other NGFF projects in development are “Endurance,” to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen, about Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic exploration; “Undaunted Courage,” based on Stephen Ambrose’s book on the Lewis and Clark expedition; and “The Unwanted,” based on Kien Nguyen’s memoir and to star Joan Chen.

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