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Spielberg Developing Kubrick's Abandoned 'Napoleon' as Miniseries

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood March 4, 2013 at 12:39PM

This year's Cannes jury president Steven Spielberg has begun developing Stanley Kubrick's "Napoleon" screenplay as a miniseries. Spielberg, who collaborated with Kubrick on 2001's "A.I.," is working with Kubrick's family to bring the abandoned 1970s project to TV.
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Kubrick's Napoleon

This year's Cannes jury president Steven Spielberg, whose "Lincoln" won two Oscars out of 12 nominations, has not lost his taste for recreating history. The filmmaker has begun developing Stanley Kubrick's "Napoleon" screenplay as a miniseries. Spielberg, who collaborated with Kubrick on 2001's "A.I.," is working with Kubrick's family to bring the abandoned 1970s project to TV.

The Stanley Kubrick exhibit currently on view at LACMA offers a room full of extensive documents and artifacts for "Napoleon" (see above), including a letter to actor Oskar Werner ("Jules and Jim," "Fahrenheit 451") offering him the eponymous role, and a polite rejection letter from Audrey Hepburn, turning down the part of Josephine. The project was ultimately put aside after it proved to have a multitude of budget and production challenges, as envisioned by perfectionist Kubrick.

Jeffrey Wells believes that Kubrick's "Napoleon" would have been a reprise of the movie Kubrick made instead when UA and MGM wouldn't back his ambitious period epic, the languorously gorgeous pre-Napoleonic "Barry Lyndon," which pioneered the use of low-light naturalistic cinematography. You can read the "Napoleon"  script here.

Spielberg tributed Kubrick last October at a LACMA gala held on the eve of the exhibition's opening. If this miniseries gets made, it will be yet another example of major film talent turning to television to back the large-scale projects that Hollywood eschews. (Spielbergh's done big-budget TV before, of course, from HBO's "Band of Brothers," which broke out Damian Lewis, to "Pacific.")


This article is related to: News, News, TV, Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.