Sadly, Kapur will step in

He'll helm Minghella's 'N.Y.' pic

The director who brought Elizabethan England to the big screen will carry on the legacy of a modern British institution.

Shekhar Kapur, the Indian-born helmer of "Elizabeth" and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," will direct one of the last pieces of writing from the late Anthony Minghella, a segment of the urban ode "New York, I Love You." Minghella had written but not cast or shot his segment of the episodic film, which was to have begun shooting in April in Manhattan.

According to Kapur, Minghella asked the helmer to carry out his vision shortly before going in for surgery two weeks ago. "He told me his film was about the value of life and how people sometimes just throw away their lives, unable to look beyond into the real beauty of it," Kapur wrote on his blog. "I will direct the film now — with Anthony in my heart and in presence of his soul."

Two of the film's producers, Marina Grasic and Emmanuel Benbihy, confirmed the Kapur attachment. The producers, who at the time of the surgery respected Minghella's wishes even as they remained hopeful it wouldn't come to that, had waited on making an announcement until they had checked with the family after Minghella's death. On Tuesday, the producing pair issued a statement that read, in part, "Anthony chose Shekhar Kapur to direct the segment he wrote for our film knowing that Kapur would have the deepest respect for his vision. We look forward to working with Shekhar Kapur."

The film, which was to have starred Minghella's son Max before the young actor bowed out several weeks ago, will be set on New York's Upper East Side and can be described as a "spiritual love story," producers said.

Kapur is best known for his twin "Elizabeth" pictures, which earned an Oscar nomination for star Cate Blanchett and a Golden Globe nom for him. He also is attached to direct the adaptation of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series for Fox.

The tapping of Kapur to direct the film resolves one question about Minghella's posthumous work. The status of several other film projects — including the Weinstein Co.'s "The Ninth Life of Louis Drax" and Miramax's "The Resurrectionist" — remain uncertain.

Minghella died last week at age 54.