Minneapolis author R.D. Zimmerman, who writes under the pen name Robert Alexander, is thrilled that one of his novels, "The Kitchen Boy," is becoming a film with prestigious names attached -- Oscar-winning screenwriter Sir Ronald Harwood ("The Pianist," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Quartet") has written the script, and Stefan Ruzowitzky, who won Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2008 for "The Counterfeiters," will direct. Kristin Scott Thomas will star as Tsarina Alexandra Romanov in the fictionalized tale of the tumultous final ruling days of Tsar Nicholas II before he and his family were banished to Siberia.
Zimmerman, who sold a business he co-owned in St. Petersburg two years ago, helped raise Russian money to finance the project so his book could go Hollywood.
"Or as they say in Russia, Gollyvood," he said.
The film will probably shoot for a month this summer in Lithuania, which offers a good film-production rebate, and a few days in Russia.
"Luckily there's a band of imperial Russian buildings in Lithuainia we can use" to stand in for the tsar's royal quarters, he said.