Sorrentino sets sights on small screen

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Just before his new film “Youth” premiered at Cannes, Paolo Sorrentino announced that he will be heading to the small screen next along with Jude Law for a show called “The Young Pope.”

The eight-part drama will follow the life of Lenny Belardo, an Italian American who becomes pontiff.

The official statement describes him as “a complex and conflicted character, so conservative in his choices as to border on obscurantism, yet full of compassion towards the weak and poor. He is a man of great power who is stubbornly resistant to the Vatican courtiers, unconcerned with the implications to his authority.

“During the series, Belardo will face losing those closest to him and the constant fear of being abandoned, even by his God. A man who is however not afraid of undertaking the millennial mission of defending that same God and the world representing Him.”

In an interview last year with Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, producer, Lorenzo Mieli said the character would be up there with classic television icons such as Walter White in “Breaking Bad.”

Sorrentino has co-written the show with veteran television and film writers Umberto Contarello, Stefano Rulli and Tony Grisoni.

“The Young Pope” will be a joint production between Sky and HBO and will start shooting this summer and continue through early 2016 with locations in Italy, the U.S., Africa and Puerto Rico.

If you plan to be in Italy during the summer months, there is ongoing casting for extras. They are currently looking for American men over the age of 50. For more information, send an email to

Sorrentino’s last film “The Great Beauty” won the Oscar for best foreign language film.

His latest project — “Youth”, starring Jane Fonda, Michael Caine and Harvey Kietel — premiered at Cannes and opened across Italy shortly thereafter, crushing its competition on opening weekend. The film is slated for release in the United States on December 4, 2015.

About Jeannine Guilyard

Jeannine Guilyard is a longtime correspondent for Fra Noi and the Italian-American community newspaper in Rochester, N.Y. She has also contributed to the Italian Tribune of New Jersey, Italian Tribune of Michigan and L'Italo Americano of Southern California. Jeannine wrote and directed the short film "Gelsomina," which was selected for the Screenings Program of the 59th Venice Film Festival, and she won Emmy and Peabody awards as an editor of ABC's "Special Report" following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Jeannine is also a writer and editor for Italian Cinema Today, a publication and blog she founded in 2005 to bridge culture between New York and Italy. Follow her on Instagram at Italianartcinema and on Twitter at @ItaloCinema2day.

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