BBC Films faces the music

Bacharach, Bourne projects top Beeb's latest development slate

It's a right old song and dance at BBC Films, which has a piece from choreographer Matthew Bourne and a musical based on the works of composer Burt Bacharach on its development slate.

Bourne, who brought "Edward Scissorhands" to the West End stage before touring the U.S., is providing creative input for BBC Films, which plans to turn the choreographer into a film director.

The pubcaster's filmmaking unit also is in development on a project full of Bacharach tunes, with Heyday Films' David Heyman producing.

The BBC unit, which reorganized its management team a month ago, also is gearing up to finance and produce "West Is West," billed as a companion piece to 1999's U.K. boxoffice and critical hit "East Is East," penned by Ayub Khan-Din.

"West" follows the story of the original film's U.K.-based Pakistani family five years later and how their lives have moved on to Pakistan. Much of the cast from the first film, including Om Puri, Linda Bassett and Jimi Mistry, will return. It will be directed by TV helmer Andy DeEmmony.

The slate features not only first-time filmmakers making a foray to the big screen but also outings from old friends.

BBC Films creative director Christine Langan is working with scribe Peter Morgan on "The Special Relationship," Martin Sheen's third screen turn as former Prime Minister Tony Blair, this time opposite Dennis Quaid as President Bill Clinton and Julianne Moore as Hillary Clinton. It will mark Morgan's directorial debut and begins shooting this year with backing from HBO.

BBC Films also has "Broken," based on the Daniel Clay novel. It is scripted by Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe and directed by Rufus Norris.

The unit also has attached Richard Loncraine to "Quartet," which has Albert Finney, Tom Courtney and Maggie Smith in negotiations to star.

The film has a Simon Beaufoy-penned script, based on Paul Torday's novel "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," out to directors. It will be produced by Paul Webster and company at U.K.-based Shine Group's Kudos Pictures. (partialdiff)

The BBC also has Justin Chadwick lined up to direct "First Grader," a project written by Ann Peacock ("The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"). The film is based on the real-life story of Kimani Maruge, an 84-year-old who turned up in school in Kenya the day after the government announced free education for all. (partialdiff)