Emmy-nominated producer Steve Lee Jones is developing an English-language film about Silvio Berlusconi and a questionable real-estate deal involving the former Italian leader’s mansion outside Milan. Titled “La Marchesa” (“The Marquise”), the project is based on a journalistic exposé and comes as Paolo Sorrentino’s two-part film “Loro,” which also looks at Berlusconi, hits Italian theaters.
The book on which “La Marchesa” is based, by Italian journalist and TV personality Luca Telese, reconstructs a 1970s sex scandal on a privately owned island that led to a triple murder. The Villa San Martino, which belonged to one of the scandal’s participants, was then inherited by a Milanese noblewoman who was allegedly tricked into selling it for a fraction of its worth by Berlusconi’s lawyer, Cesare Previti. The complicated inheritance procedure allegedly made it possible for Previti to leverage the deal to Berlusconi’s advantage.
Previti, who later became one of Berlusconi’s government ministers, accused Telese of libel. But both Telese and the publisher were cleared of all charges.
Jones (“You Don’t Know Jack”), who is at the Cannes market premiering bodybuilding film “Bigger,” said he was drawn to the “Marchesa” story because “it’s an incredible reflection of what’s happening today when all of a sudden, be it celebrities or high-caliber politicians, no one is beyond reproach.”
American screenwriter Andy Weiss (“White Boy Rick,” “Bigger”) is writing the script based on the book. Jones and Weiss will be traveling to Italy in June to scout locations and meet with Italian actors and potential directors and cinematographers, Jones said.
“I really love some of the Italian films from the ’70s and want the film to have the richness of period and the intensity of color and passion that imbues these events,” he said.