ROME — Italy’s expanding Leone Film Group is venturing into the Spaghetti Western territory so dear to its late great founder with an English-language TV series titled “Colt,” based on an idea developed by Sergio Leone, master of the genre.
The concept is centered around the six-shooter packed by Clint Eastwood in “For a Fistful of Dollars.”
“It’s from my father’s idea in which the gun was the main character and the device through which the tale is told,” said Raffaella Leone, who now runs Leone Film Group with her brother Andrea.
“We are thinking of six episodes, each one connected to a single gun shot. But we could do more,” she added.
Italian director Stefano Sollima, who has made a name for himself helming Sky’s naturalistic Neapolitan mob drama “Gomorra,” which is Italy’s all time top TV export, will direct the first two episodes and act as showrunner.
In 1987 Sergio Leone hooked up with his old writing partners Sergio Donati and Fulvio Morsella to work on an idea for a TV skein about a Colt revolver that passes from owner to owner throughout the Old West. The concept is somewhat similar to Anthony Mann’s James Stewart-starrer “Winchester ’73,” which traces the journey of a prized rifle from one ill-fated owner to another.
Donati reportedly recounted that Leone was interested in a more naturalistic take on the Spaghetti Western genre than his earlier works, wanting to show the Old West “like it really was.” After Donati wrote a treatment draft he then abandoned the project.
Sollima, who’s late father Sergio Sollima was the Spaghetti Western pioneer who directed Lee Van Clef-starrer “The Big Gundown,” among other cult pics, is writing the “Colt” screenplay with Italo scribes Luca Infascelli and writer/director Massimo Gaudioso (“Welcome to the South”).
“The idea is a story about how a bunch of kids become outlaws in the Old West,” Raffaella Leone said. “It starts out when they are adolescents and traces their becoming bandits within the arc of the six episodes,” she added.
Leone went on to note that “Colt” will be “like a prequel to ‘Jessie James’,” referring to the 1939 classic Western in which young brothers Jessie and Frank James, played respectively by Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda, become outlaws after exacting revenge on their mothers’ assassin.
Leone Film Group is in advanced talks with several unspecified U.S. and European partners to board the show which is likely to be shot in the U.S.
The group also has another, previously announced, high-end TV project, a Mafia origins skein titled “I Beati Paoli,” in the pipeline conceived by Giuseppe Tornatore, who will direct the first episode.
In separate news Leone group has also inked a three-project deal with Italian director Gabriele Muccino, who directed Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Seven Pounds.” The still to be defined projects could be either two feature films and a TV series or three features.
Muccino is a rare case of an Italo helmer with Hollywood credentials. However he has had a few U.S. misfires since working with Smith, most notably Gerard Butler-starrer “Playing for Keeps,” which bombed badly in the U.S., though in Italy it did fairly well. He has publicly bemoaned the constraints of working within the Hollywood system.
“We want Muccino to develop his own ideas and help shepherd them into the international marketplace,” said Leone.