Polanski to direct film of political thriller 'Ghost'

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LONDON -- Roman Polanski will direct a film adaptation of "The Ghost," the best-selling political thriller by Robert Harris.

Random House Group, the book's publisher, said Polanski and Harris are collaborating on a screenplay. Filming is due to begin in northern Europe next year.

The book's narrator is a ghostwriter, hired to help a former British leader complete his memoirs, who becomes enmeshed in a web of espionage and political intrigue.

It has caused ripples in Britain for its parallels to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has known Harris for 15 years. Like Blair, fictional premier Adam Lang is a once-popular politician brought down by his close alliance with the United States in its "war on terror."

"There's a lot of psychological intrigue in the story, as well as espionage and politics, and most of the action takes place in an oceanfront house during the middle of winter -- all of it classic Polanski territory," Harris said.

Polanski, who won an Oscar in 2003 for the Holocaust drama "The Pianist," said he's been interested in directing a political thriller.

"'The Ghost' could not be more perfect," the 74-year-old filmmaker said. "Robert has constructed a novel with such suspense, it is hard to put down."

Poland-born Polanski has been living in self-imposed exile from the United States since fleeing child-sex charges in 1978. He also hasn't visited Britain for fear of extradition.

Last month, Blair signed an agreement with Random House to publish his own memoirs, for an undisclosed advance. He has said he doesn't plan to hire a ghostwriter.
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