Laurence Fishburne will direct, star and produce in a $60m-plus
adaptation of Paulo Coelho's international bestseller The Alchemist
for The Weinstein Company (TWC).

TWC International chief Glen Basner will commence pre-sales here on
the acclaimed story of an Andalusian shepherd's search for truth that
takes him across vast stretches of Africa.

Harvey Weinstein is in talks with an Oscar winning writer to adapt the
screenplay and said he would conduct a worldwide search for the roles
of the shepherd Santiago and the love of his life Fatima. Fishburne
will portray the titular mystic who teaches Santiago the meaning of

Weinstein will personally produce the project, a rare step for him,
after acquiring worldwide rights last week. The property had been in
turnaround for years and Warner Bros relinquished rights six years

Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group packaged with Fishburne's
manager Helen Sugland and attorneys Nina Shaw and Jeff Finkelstein.
The agency represents Fishburne.

'Over the years I've been very lucky with that [films coming out of
turnaround],' Weinstein said, noting that Shakespeare In Love was
originally set up at Universal before Miramax acquired rights and that
Shanghai, which is currently shooting in London, had initially been at

'And one way or another I'm finding a role for Penelope Cruz in this
movie,' Weinstein told a press conference yesterday morning, adding
that the star of Woody Allen's out of competition screener Vicky
Cristina Barcelona would play a smaller role.

Scouting is underway in Spain, Jordan, Abu Dhabi, the Middle East and
Northern Africa for a late spring or early summer 2009 shoot. 'I hope
this will act as a bridge to the Middle East,' Weinstein said. 'This
is a part of the world we need to know more about and extend a bridge
to. It could be a healer and bring the West and the East, particularly
the Middle East, together.'

'This is a special project that now has a special team behind it to
ensure that its path to the big screen is handled with the proper care
it deserves,' Fishburne said. I am looking forward to directing it,
acting in it, and collaborating with Harvey Weinstein to produce a
beautiful film that will do justice to Paulo's enormously successful