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Just Like Magic: OLIVER! Scores a New Director

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Toby Haynes, director and executive producer of the recent successful BBC1 adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, has been selected to direct the upcoming version of Oliver! planned by Sony Pictures and Working Title.

The well-known Charles Dickens’ story, Oliver Twist, is about a mistreated orphan who joins a gang of young pick-pockets mentored and managed by an adult crook.  The script for this version is being written Lee Hall (Billy Eliot), and produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh (Les Miserables), with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, who co-produced The Big Lebowski, Fargo, and Shaun of the Dead.

Prior to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Haynes directed other British television programs including Sherlock, Doctor Who, and Being Human. To his credit, “The Reichenbach Fall” was voted the best ever episode of Sherlock by the readers of The Radio Times, and won some high praise from The Times’ television reviewer, Andrew Billen.

There are some pretty big shoes to fill: the 1968 Carol Reed film Oliver! won five Oscars, including best picture, best director and best score.  Judging from the talented people involved so far, we may expect great things to happen with this new version, which is purported to be grittier than the original.  The film will be shot in and around London beginning next year.

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