Bill Pohlad returning to his roots to direct film

  • Updated: August 4, 2010 - 6:28 PM

After years as a producer, he'll return to the role of director in a project that may star Sean Penn.

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Bill Pohlad

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Minneapolis movie mogul Bill Pohlad is set to return to the director's chair for the first time in 20 years, his production company River Road Entertainment confirmed Wednesday.

The film is called "Genius." Two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn is in talks to star as Max Perkins, the famed literary editor who shepherded the careers of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

Pohlad, who wasn't available for comment, hasn't directed a feature film since his 1990 debut, "Old Explorers," starring José Ferrer and James Whitmore. He followed that with corporate, commercial and documentary projects before putting aside his directing ambitions for a career as indie-film producer.

Pohlad has produced several award-winning films, including "Brokeback Mountain," "A Prairie Home Companion" and Penn's "Into the Wild." He has two films starring Penn in the pipeline: Terrence Malick's epic "The Tree of Life" and the political thriller "Fair Game," the story of diplomat Joseph Wilson and CIA operative Valerie Plame, which played in competition at the Cannes festival this spring.

Pohlad's Minneapolis-based River Road also will produce "Genius." Adapted from A. Scott Berg's National Book Award-winning biography "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius," the script by John Logan ("The Aviator," "Gladiator") focuses on Perkins' intense professional relationship with Thomas Wolfe as he shaped Wolfe's first two novels, "Look Homeward, Angel" and "Of Time and the River." The script is littered with other real-life literary characters, too.

ERIK MCCLANAHAN

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