News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that producer Harvey Weinstein (Gangs Of New York) is looking to take on old Oscar rival Steven Spielberg (Bridge Of Spies) as he pushes forward with a competing film based on the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara in 1858, with Baltasar Kormákur (Everest) in talks to direct his version.
Spielberg, you might recall, is already developing a take on the story, hiring regular collaborator Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies) as Pope Pius IX for the fascinating true life tale of Mortara. Tony Kushner (Munich) is adapting David Kertzer's novel, which charts what happened when a seven-year-old Italian Jew was thrust into controversy, taken from his parents and raised as a Catholic by authorities of the Papacy. He ended up becoming a priest in a story that sees the Pope clashing with the forces of Italian democracy.
As for Weinstein, the producer has been captivated by the Kertzer novel for eight years and he even considered teaming up with Spielberg on the film. But when Steven Spielberg decided to go his own way, Weinstein pushed a competing vision into fast track development, with Nick Wechsler (The Road) on script duty and Robert De Niro (Heat) considering the role of Pope Pius IX. It is likely that the two movies will focus on different aspects and years of Mortara's life, but with Weinstein aiming to kick off shooting in January and Spielberg waiting until spring (he is currently busy on Ready Player One right now), we could certainly see some competition come awards time.