Satanic classic gets hot again <sub18>Vet producer teams with Granite, STV Nets on latest 'Paradise Lost' pic</sub18>

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It's time to brush up on your John Milton because the 17th century English poet's "Paradise Lost" is suddenly on Hollywood's radar.

Veteran producer Martin Poll has joined Granite Entertainment and STV Networks to mount an indie version of "Paradise" that has been gestating nearly four decades and could enter production as early as the summer. If so, it could find itself going up against a competing version of "Paradise" that Legendary Pictures and Vincent Newman Entertainment have been developing for several years.

Poll began pitching a film version of Milton's epic poem during the late 1960s.

Although at the time he couldn't interest a studio in making a movie about Satan's fall from grace, his temptation of Adam and Eve and the first couple's subsequent banishment from the Garden of Eden, Poll began working with British author and screenwriter John Collier, who wrote a screenplay that was published in book form in 1973.

Although Collier died in 1980, Poll said he has renewed his option through the years.

During the past year, the project has taken on new life: Poll has teamed with producers Hank McCann, Bob Knotek and Jonas McCord.

Philadelphia-based STV Networks — a digital distribution company specializing in Bollywood fare headed by Sridhar Sreekakula, who is seeking to get into theatrical distribution — has come aboard as a co-financier, agreeing to put up half of the film's projected $30 million- $35 million budget.

Poll initially brought the script to Arthur Penn, who worked on its development but decided against directing, so the project is out to helmers.

Young actors David Dunham and Patricia Li Bryan are on tap to play Adam and Eve as part of a multiethnic cast. The producers hope to land a star to play Satan.

Although "Paradise" is in the public domain, the producers said they've registered the title with the MPAA to stake out their turf. They still could find themselves in a battle with Legendary's more ambitious-sounding "Paradise." Scott Derrickson is attached to direct that project for release by Warner Bros. (partialdiff)
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