Charles, Maher film to take potshots at religion

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BERLIN - Controversial global talking points and humor have always been comfortable bedfellows on the big screen but it's been a long time since anyone turned the spoof spotlight on global religion.

But the prospects of an untitled movie from "Borat" director Larry Charles, narrated and presented by comedian Bill Maher, which takes potshots at major religions from Judaism and Islam to Christianity, has buyers salivating here at the EFM.

First out of the blocks to snap the movie was high-profile Middle East buyer Falcon, who took the movie within hours of learning what the movie contains from seller First Look International, the international sales arm for First Look Studios.

Given the current global climate and growth of religious fundamentalism, Charles could really be onto something.

At midnight on the eve of the market, the filmmaker sent First Look International a top secret memo about the thrust of the movie, which filmed segments in locations including a Muslim gay bar in London, Vatican City and various temples.

So guarded is Charles that he told First Look International president Stuart Ford that on no account should anyone be allowed to take his memo away.

Oh, buyers could read it, but no one was allowed to take a copy to show bean counters who may need to countersign any acquisition check.

"It has certainly peaked interest in the project with a lot of buyers coming back to re-read Charles' outline," Ford told The Hollywood Reporter.

The memo certainly contains some funny notes on issues the film is going to address. "Is religion an obsessive-compulsive disorder?" one Charles question reads.

He also notes that the Genesis story -- with a spare rib from Adam being used to create Eve and the creation of the world in seven days -- sounds more like a big-budget Hollywood movie than the foundation of a major religious movement.

Buyers are certainly buzzing about the movie, which is being flogged here on the basis that it's "Borat" meets "Fahrenheit 9/11."

And as his note promised: "Coming soon to a house of false idols near you."
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