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Pen Densham courts ‘Bill’

Director set for tennis legend Tilden

Pen Densham has been set to direct “Big Bill,” a feature about the self-destructive tennis legend Bill Tilden.

Gil Dennis (“Walk the Line”) wrote the script, based on the Frank Deford book “Big Bill: The Triumphs and the Tragedy.”

Baldwin Entertainment and GlennIris Entertainment have put together the funding to make the picture, according to a spokesman, and the start date is cast contingent.

Densham hasn’t directed a feature since 1996’s “Moll Flanders,” though he helmed the 1998 telepic “Houdini” for TNT. He has busied himself writing and producing such projects as the series revivals of “The Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone” for his Trilogy Entertainment Group.

Densham said he was hooked by Dennis’ script.

In the 1920s, Tilden won six straight U.S. Open singles titles, a feat that Roger Federer will try to surpass this month. Tilden’s accomplishments — including stints as a novelist, playwright and contract bridge champion — were marred by his imprisonment twice for sexual misbehavior with teenage boys. He died broke.

Karen and Howard Baldwin (“Ray”) are producing with GlennIris Entertainment principals Charles O. Glenn and Barbara Cocks, and Oren Stevens.

Also aboard as producers will be Thomas A. Cohen and Densham’s Trilogy partner John Watson.

Tilden was the first American to win Wimbledon, and he led the U.S. Davis Cup team to six straight titles.

Densham said Tilden was scrupulous about obeying the rules on court — if he got an undeserved call, he would hit the next ball out to even things up — and refused to soft sell his indiscretions.

“He said, I’m a sportsman, and I own up to what I’ve done,” Densham said.

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