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'Diary of Anne Frank' to be subject of new film

Anne Frank
"The Diary of Anne Frank" is scheduled to be made into a movie once again -- this time with "Driving Miss Daisy" writer Alfred Uhry adapting the work  

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Fox 2000 has set up a feature film version of "The Diary of Anne Frank," with Oscar-winning "Driving Miss Daisy" scribe Alfred Uhry adapting. The feature will use prose from the actual diary, with rights granted by the Switzerland-based copyright holder Anne Frank Fonds.

That endorsement by the foundation run by relatives of the ill-fated heroine has already had a direct impact on an Anne Frank TV movie being readied by ABC: Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks, who were announced this spring as executive producers, dropped out, ostensibly after receiving letters from family members asking Spielberg not to be involved, sources said.

Marc Platt will produce the Fox project. Uhry is expected soon to deliver a script based heavily on the actual words Frank wrote while hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic.

Long considered the most poignant document of the Holocaust, the diary has been an international bestseller. Eventually found in the attic, Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the waning days of World War Two.

"The vision of the project is to portray not as a saintly child, but a real girl who came of age during horrific circumstances," said Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler, who's shepherding the project with executive VP Carla Hacken. "It's a compelling way to tell her story, particularly with Alfred, who took his granddaughter to the actual house when doing his research and experienced those things with her. Directors have already shown interest, and the key to all this has been Marc, whose passion for the material is what got us the rights."

The Fox 2000 feature, which will likely come out a year or more after the ABC project, is the result of a dogged effort over several years by producer Platt to win the cooperation of the family.

The foundation was wary of Hollywood, and made a deal for a remake of the 1959 George Stevens-directed Fox film with Swiss filmmaker Pierre Koralnik, who had a close relationship with Anne Frank's cousin, Buddy Elias, head of Anne Frank Fonds. That foundation has rebuffed numerous Hollywood offers but Platt's persistence and track record garnered their trust. Platt will produce with Koralnik.

ABC's "Anne Frank: The Whole Story," is based not on the diary but a biography by Melissa Muller, which chronicled the girl's life from start to her death. It has been scripted by Kirk Ellis, who has quickly emerged as ABC's go-to guy on big biopics after "The Beach Boys."

Spielberg ("Schindler's List") was asked by ABC to participate because of his activism in Holocaust issues. A Spielberg spokesman confirmed he'd ankled the project, but wouldn't elaborate.

Since Spielberg's role would have primarily been to provide a badge of prestige, his exit hasn't hurt the momentum of the ABC project, which, if anything, has grown in scope. Originally slated to be a one-night, three-hour picture, the project has grown into a four-hour miniseries to air two nights next May. Filming begins in December in Prague and the pic is casting up quickly.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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