MarkAmin's Sobini Films has teamed up with David Permit's PermutPresentations to co-produce Julia Pastrana, based on the real-life Victorian English romance between a deformedentertainer and the man who turned her into an international star. Although nodirector and cast have been attached, Meg Richman, who co-wrote and directedthe 1998 romantic drama Under Heaven, has been hired to polish Clair Noto's original screenplay.

Thestory charts the life of Pastrana, a dime museum performer with grotesquefacial disfigurement who earned a living by singing and dancing. Despite heraffliction Pastrana was an avid student of literature and history and spoke fivelanguages.

'Iloved the script from the moment I read it, and immediately started chasingDavid Permut until he finally gave in,' Amin said in a statement. 'JuliaPastrana is that impossible-to-findcombination of fascinating characters and a totally original story.'Sobini's president of production Robin Schorr and company president CamiWinikoff will executive produce the project, with Permut vice president SteveLongi serving as co-producer.

Thefilm was originally the locomotive in a package of films being put together byPermut in association with foreign sales veteran Massimo Graziosi and foreigndistributors such as UGC in France, Medusa in Italy and Helkon Media in Germany.At that point (2000), Julia hadTaylor Hackford attached to direct and Richard Gere attached to star.

SobiniFilms was set up in 2001 by Amin and his Trimark Pictures production executive Schorrafter he sold Trimark to Lions Gate; it has a first-look deal with Lions GateEntertainment. Forthcoming titles include an adaptation of British novelistGraham Joyce's Dark Sister to bedirected by Lawrence O'Neil, whose credits include Breast Men; Alex Rios' thriller Poster Boy; and the Turner Network Television co-production Framed, starring Rob Lowe and Sam Neill.

Permut Presentationsprojects include Eddie Griffin: Dys-Funk-Tional Family, due for release on February 28, 2003; Disney's Providence, starring Matthew Broderick; and Warner Bros' WhiteOut, with hotshot Training Daydirector Antoine Fuqua attached to direct.