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Director Frankenheimer Lights Fire Under 'Exorcist' Prequel

3 Aug, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

Director John Frankenheimer has come aboard to helm Morgan Creek Prods.' next installment of the Exorcist franchise, a prequel that has yet to be titled.

Production will begin in the spring in the United States, England and Africa.

Frankenheimer will segueinto the project after he wraps shooting on the HBO feature Path to War, scheduled to go into production in the fall.

The Exorcist prequel traces the story of Father Merrin back to his first encounter with the devil during missionary work in post-World War II Africa.

William Wisher initially adapted the prequel for the big screen from William Peter Blatty's original TheExorcist novel. Best-selling author Caleb Carr rewrote the material, which then caught the interest of Frankenheimer.

Morgan Creek chairman and c.e.o. James Robinson is producing the film, with production president Jonathan Zimbert executive producing.

Warner Bros. will distribute the film domestically, while the studio and Morgan Creek International willdistribute overseas.

The first installment, released in 1973, has spawned two sequels -- 1977'sExorcist II: The Heretic and 1990's Exorcist III.

Last year, Warner Bros. reissued The Exorcist with recovered footage that was cut from the originalfilm.

Path, based on Robert Caro's book The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, will reteamFrankenheimer with HBO, for whom he directed Against the Wall and The Burning Season, both ofwhich won the helmer Emmys for best director.

The project, about President Johnson and the Vietnam War, will star Michael Gambon as the late U.S. chief executive. Daniel Giat adapted the book. The film will be executive produced by Frankenheimer, Cary Brokaw, Edgar J. Scherick and Howard Dratch.

Frankenheimer most recently directed BMW Films' online action short "Ambush" and the features Reindeer Games and Ronin. The helmer is a four-time Emmywinner, having additionally won for his direction of TNT's "George Wallace" and "Andersonville."

Morgan Creek next produces American Outlaws starring Colin Farrell and Juwanna Mann starringMiguel A. Nunez Jr.

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