Paramount has set “The Pianist” scribe Ronald Harwood to write a feature about last fall’s Dover, Pa., courtroom decision in which a federal judge denied a school board the right to force educators to teach intelligent design instead of evolution.
Lynda Obst will produce.
Deal marks another hot-button pic for Paramount, which is readying a fall release of the Oliver Stone-directed World Trade Center project and has a spring start for the Kimberly Peirce-directed “Stop-Loss,” about American soldiers who face being sent back to the front lines in Iraq because of a controversial statute invoked by the Defense Dept.
Studio is also gearing up for an early 2007 production start on “The Invisible World,” a Ridley Scott-directed drama about the abduction of a female journalist in Iraq.
Obst and Harwood say the trial had the level of emotional drama present in the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial, the subject of the 1960 film “Inherit the Wind,” which was based on the 1955 Broadway play.
“Our aspiration is to make a film that powerful,” Harwood said. “We have a highly emotional case that divided a town right down the middle, and a judge whose summary was spectacular.”
Sensing a potential film, Obst sent a researcher to observe the trial and take notes.
“It has turned out to be the test case for the teaching of evolution in high school curriculums across the country, and it speaks directly to the key schism between the red and blue states,” she said.
Oscar-winning Harwood, who most recently scripted New Line’s “Love in the Time of Cholera” and Focus Features’ “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” will start writing as soon as he completes a rewrite of Baz Luhrmann’s untitled film for Fox, which shoots later this year with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman starring.