Stone Village has 'Master' plan


NEW YORK -- Satan comes to Earth in Mikhail Bulgakov's novel "The Master and Margarita," and he will return to the big screen in the adaptation from Stone Village Pictures and producer Scott Steindorff.

The Los Angeles-based production company has optioned the late Russian writer's once-banned book, an inspiration for Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," in a low- to mid-six figure against a low-seven figure deal.

SVP president Steindorff will produce the film. SVP partners Chris Law, Danny Greenspun, Robin Greenspun and execs Scott Lastati and Dylan Russell will executive produce alongside Michael Lang. It's one of several SVP adaptations, including "Love in the Time of Cholera" and the upcoming "True Believer."

"Master and Margarita" begins in pre-WWII Moscow, where the devil appears as a mysterious man who insinuates himself into a literary crowd. Amid a series of deaths and disappearances, the devil brings together the title characters, a despairing novelist and his devoted but married lover. The story shifts to the setting of the master's rejected novel, Jerusalem in the time of Pontius Pilate, and then to a supernatural world where Satanic forces have taken over Margarita's life.

Roman Polanski adapted the novel in the late 1980s and was set to direct before Warner Bros. reportedly pulled the plug because of budgetary concerns. The book was adapted into a Russian TV miniseries in 2005.

Bulgakov finished the book shortly before his death in 1940, but in part because of its allusions to Stalin's regime, it was banned until a two-part, censored version was published in 1966 and 1967. SVP now is hunting for a writer to adapt it from the uncensored manuscript.