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Bill Murray joins ‘Hyde Park’ as FDR

Focus Features International brings hefty slate to Cannes

Bill Murray is set to play Franklin D. Roosevelt in the historical drama “Hyde Park on Hudson,” which Focus Features Intl. is unveiling to buyers at Cannes next week.

Pic, based on a British radio play by Richard Nelson, is set in 1939 and follows the weekend visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to President Roosevelt’s upstate New York home, called Hyde Park on Hudson.

Over the course of the visit, which took place the summer before WWII broke out, details of FDR’s private life begin to unfold, including his affair with his distant cousin Daisy.

Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”) is onboard to direct. He will produce alongside Kevin Loader (“In the Loop”) and David Aukin.

Nelson has penned the script, which Film4 helped develop.

Murray was being courted for the role for around a year, but communicating with Murray is, as many bizzers know, difficult since he has no agent.

Focus, which has been quieter than usual at the past few markets, is descending upon the Croisette with a bang this year, offering a robust slate of titles to buyers.

In addition to “Hyde Park,” its pics include Tom Hanks starrer “Cloud Atlas,” penned and helmed by the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer; Hugh Laurie starrer “Mister Pip,” which is set during the civil war in Papua New Guinea and sees a girl become transfixed by Charles Dickens’ tome “Great Expectations”; Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”; and an untitled Paul Weitz film.

“We’ve got five brand new movies, and we’re really pleased,” said Focus co-prexy Alison Thompson. “The last 12 months haven’t been easy for anyone, and this is an indication that things are moving again. Things seem to take twice as long these days.”

This year, Focus doesn’t have anything showing in the Cannes lineup, which Thompson considers a bit of a “blessing” as the company can focus on sales of its slate.

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