EXCLUSIVE: David Frankel, director of The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, has just agreed to direct One Chance, a feature based on the unlikely overnight success story of Paul Potts, a schlubby British cell phone salesman who showed up onstage to sing opera on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent in 2007, and left a hosting panel that included Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan with their jaws on the floor.
Frankel, who just wrapped The Big Year with Jack Black, wants to make this his next film to start production in April. The project was originally set at Paramount, which let it go. With Frankel aboard to direct a script by The Bucket List writer Justin Zackham, producers Brad Weston and Mike Menchel today will go out to financiers looking to secure production financing to make that start date. Frankel’s repped by WME and Anonymous Content’s Rosalie Swedlin. The film is a comedy that follows Potts from his origins as a chubby child to awkward portly adult with a passion for opera, and the various mishaps along the way that kept his spectacular voice a secret until he unveiled it one night before most of the United Kingdom. He has gone on to become a global opera star who tours the world and has sold millions of albums. The picture will likely shoot in Wales and it’s possible that an unknown will be tapped to play Potts, with established actors around him. CAA and WME are repping the project together.
Cowell, who created Britain’s Got Talent and was originally going to be a producer, has too much on his plate and dropped off the project, though he’s give it his endorsement. I first wrote about the unlikely pic project two years ago, and at the time, Cowell recalled the moment to me this way: “That particular day was one of the worst, the acts were just terrible, we were fed up and on comes this guy with a funny little suit and bad teeth who looked very nervous. I can remember looking at the other judges, with that ‘here we go again’ feeling. We had 2000 people in the audience, and I’ll never forget how much the room changed when he began singing.” If you think Cowell was exaggerating, watch Potts’ TV debut below: