Anne Frank Miniseries Won't Move Forward After Opposition

Anne Frank Projects - H 2014

Anne Frank Projects - H 2014

German public broadcaster ZDF says it will not produce the unauthorized TV project after the group that owns the rights to her diary denounced it.

German public broadcaster ZDF has backed down in a war of words between the network and the Anne Frank Fund over an unauthorized TV miniseries ZDF was planning about the life of Anne Frank and her family.

The TV project, which ZDF was supposed to produce with German firms Moovie and Constantin Film, was announced only last week. But ZDF director general Thomas Bellut now says the broadcaster will not produce any project about Frank without the Fund's approval and participation.

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The climb-down comes after the Swiss-based foundation, which holds rights to Frank's famous diary and the Frank family archive, publicly condemned the TV project and ZDF. The German public broadcaster violated "all standards of convention, fairness and decency" by going ahead with an Anne Frank biography without consulting them, said Yves Kugelmann, a member of the board of the Anne Frank Fund and its spokesman.

Speaking to THR, Kugelmann said Bellut had assured him he had put an immediate stop to the TV miniseries, which was set to begin shooting in Germany this summer for a 2015 broadcast, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank's death.

Kugelmann said the Fund's lawyers have a previously scheduled appointment with Constantin Film producer Oliver Berben next month to discuss the project, but the chances are not good that production on the series will continue. Constantin Film declined to comment for this story. In an interview with a German newspaper, Berben indicated he still hoped the project would go ahead.

The Anne Frank Fund already is involved in two other biopics, an animated take on Frank's life from Waltz With Bashir director Ari Folman and a German-language feature to be written by Fred Breinersdorfer (who wrote the script for the Oscar-nominated Sophie Scholl: The Final Days) and directed by Hans Steinbichler (Winter Journey). Both films are scheduled for release in 2015.

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The new live-action film will be the first-ever Anne Frank biopic developed in Germany. Although she wrote her diary in Dutch -- much of it while in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam -- Frank was born in Germany and spoke German as her first language.

Her diary, which Frank's father, Otto, first published in 1947 after her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. It has been adapted many times for the big and small screens. The Diary of Anne Frank (1958), featuring Millie Perkins as Anne, won three Oscars. A 1980 TV movie starring Melissa Gilbert received three Emmy noms, and the 2001 ABC miniseries Anne Frank: The Whole Story won two Emmys.