Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Back when he was in France to head the Cannes Film Festival jury, Steven Spielberg dropped a bombshell when he announced that he would turn an un-produced Stanley Kubrick screenplay about Napoleon Bonaparte into a miniseries. Well, here’s another bombshell: They are courting Baz Luhrmann to direct the mini at HBO.

Deals are a long way from being made, but I’m told the plan is for Luhrmann to take on what becomes the highest-profile miniseries at that payweb. When Spielberg first revealed the project in an interview with Canal Plus on French TV, he said that this was the project Kubrick had dreamed of making, only to drop it when Hollywood studios refused to fund it, even after Kubrick promised in a letter to studio executives in 1971 that it would be the best movie ever made. Indeed, the movie has been coined “the greatest movie never made.”

Luhrmann, who last directed the hit The Great Gatsby, isn’t the only helmer interested in the diminutive French conqueror. Warner Bros just set Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders to direct a feature about Napoleon. This isn’t the first time Lurhmann has been in a competitive situation on an historic project: He was gearing up to direct Leonardo DiCaprio in Alexander The Great, but was beaten to the punch back in 2003 by the Oliver Stone-directed Alexander, with Colin Farrell in the title role. The nice thing here is that these are very different projects — HBO’s will be much longer — but for Luhrmann, the payweb tends to move quickly. He’s repped by WME.

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