Pair painting ‘Franco’

Gernon to helm script by Sigal

Fortress Entertainment and Liberty Films have partnered to produce “Franco.” Ed Gernon will direct a script by Clancy Sigal (“Frida”) and Janice Tidwell.

Pic is based on the life of Franco Magnani, as chronicled in Oliver Sacks’ book “An Anthropologist on Mars.” It’s the true story of a gifted but mentally troubled Italian immigrant painter who’s driven to re-create in perfect photographic detail the Tuscan village of his childhood, destroyed 20 years earlier.

Liberty’s Gernon and Diana Kerew, who wrote the story on which the screenplay will be based, are producing. Fortress’ Patrick Rizzotti and Brett Forbes exec produce. Mike Gozzard will oversee for the shingle.

Liberty brought the book and life rights to Fortress, a production company formed last year by Rizzotti and Forbes to finance early film development.

Fortress is also partnering with Basil Iwanyk and his Thunder Road banner to produce “Bull” and with David Permut to produce “Dreamtective,” based on Elizabeth Swados’ teen fantasy novel. With Jonathan Sanger, shingle is producing a film based on the mysterious disappearance of Edgar Allan Poe.

Gernon has produced telepics including “Hitler: The Rise of Evil” for CBS and “Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay.”

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