Werner Herzog set for 'Piano Tuner'


Werner Herzog will write and direct "The Piano Tuner," a lush Victorian-era drama about a Brit's journey to war-torn Burma, for Focus Features. Mandalay Independent Pictures' Cathy Schulman is a producer on the project.

Based on Daniel Mason's 2002 debut novel, the story centers on Edgar Drake, a man sent to a remote village in the late 1800s to repair an eccentric military man's piano. Drake falls in love with a Burmese woman and her country, but as the officer wins over locals through music and medicine, things grow treacherous when his troops begin to suspect him of treason.

"Tuner" is right up the intense helmer's alley. Herzog has directed several films about men venturing into exotic locales ("Rescue Dawn," "Grizzly Man," "Fitzcarraldo"), but this will be his biggest English-language costume drama in more than four decades as a filmmaker.

The original screen adaptation by Peter Buchman is being rewritten by Herzog. Focus Features executives John Lyons and Kahli Small will oversee the project for the studio.

Mason sold "Tuner" and another novel to Knopf in 2001 for $1.2 million. Schulman optioned the novel with her fellow Bull's Eye Entertainment principals Bob Yari and Tom Nunan in 2003, shortly before their bitter separation. Other producers might be added in the coming months as preproduction ramps up.

Herzog is repped by Gersh.

Gregg Goldstein reported from New York; Borys Kit reported from Los Angeles.