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Paul Verhoeven to Adapt ‘Bel Ami’ into French-Language TV Series

The "RoboCop" and "Starship Troopers" director returns to television for a project that has yet to find a broadcaster.

Paul VerhoevenPortrait Studio at Contenders presented by Deadline, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Nov 2016

Paul Verhoeven

Deadline/REX/Shutterstock

Paul Verhoeven, the acclaimed director of “RoboCop” and “Starship Troopers,” is working on a French-language TV series based on Guy de Maupassant’s “Bel Ami” novel, which will be produced by Saïd Ben Saïd.

Deadline reported that Verhoeven will serve as showrunner and direct all eight episodes of the series, which will offer a contemporary spin on the novel, according to Ben Saïd. The original “Bel Ami” novel, published in 1885, centered on a corrupt journalist in Paris who rose to power by manipulating a series of powerful and wealthy women. The series will be written by Dutch screenwriter Gerard Soeteman, who collaborated with Verhoeven on films such as “Black Book” and “Turkish Delight.” Which broadcaster would eventually air the series is still being discussed, and filming is expected to begin in France in summer 2021, according to Ben Saïd.

Ben Saïd, through a representative, confirmed his Deadline comments on the project to IndieWire.

The upcoming “Bel Ami” adaption will mark the second Ben Saïd-Verhoeven collaboration. The duo previously worked on the Oscar-nominated thriller “Elle,” which was released in 2016 and served as Verhoeven’s first French-language film. “Elle” won a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won the Best Film award at France’s 42nd César Awards.

Verhoeven’s “Bel Ami” adaption won’t mark the novel’s first adaption; a feature film based on the book was released in 2012 and was directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, and starred Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Ben Saïd also told Deadline that Verhoeven’s “Benedetta,” an erotic thriller about a lesbian nun, has been pushed back to 2021. The film was originally expected to premiere at Cannes 2020 before the festival, like most other major film and television events, was shuttered.

“Bel Ami” might not be Verhoeven’s first French language project, but the upcoming adaption does mark the end of the director’s television hiatus. Verhoeven served as executive producer on 39 episodes of the “Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles” television series based on the original film.

As for Ben Saïd, he has produced a variety of well-received foreign-language films in recent years, including “Bacarau” and “Synonyms” in 2019.

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