Walcott making ‘Ti Jean’ a pic

Tuner penned by Nobel-winning writer in 1957

NEW YORK — Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott is teaming with Gotham-based Kaufman Films to write, produce and direct his musical play, “Ti Jean and His Brothers.”

Although the project will be Walcott’s first feature, he has been at work adapting it for some time, even producing a series of watercolor storyboards.

Set in Walcott’s native St. Lucia, story is about a trio of brothers who must outsmart the devil – in the guise of a plantation owner – to save their family.

The musical play was written in 1957 and was the first non-Shakespearean title to be performed in Gotham’s annual Shakespeare in the Park festival.

Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize in 1992, has also been tapped for MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships.

Producers Kevin Kaufman and Patrick Moses intend to film the entire pic in St. Lucia with a Caribbean cast. Production is set to begin in early 2004.

“My priority is that the film will be authentic,” Walcott said. “And with the team we’re assembling with Kaufman Films, it will be.”

Shingle plans to fashion film in the spirit of “Whale Rider,” which also tackled similar themes of family, culture and magic.

Kaufman’s other credits include doc “The Palladium: Where Mambo Was King,” which aired on Bravo, and feature “Romeo & Julia,” which won the audience prize at the Houston Int’l Film Festival.