April 29, 2010 / 7:11 AM / 9 years ago

Juan Jose Campanella to direct big-screen "Heck"

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Juan Jose Campanella, whose Argentine film “The Secret in Their Eyes” won the foreign-language-film Oscar this year, is making his English-language feature directing debut with “Heck,” an adaptation of a children’s fantasy novel.

Described as a kids’ version of Dante’s “Inferno,” “Heck” centers on a good boy named Milton Fauster who, with his shoplifting sister, dies in a freak accident and ends up in an unearthly reform school called Heck, where Lizzie Borden teaches home economics and Richard Nixon is the ethics teacher. Milton meets Virgil, a boy who has a map of the Nine Circles of Heck, and the two plot to escape the netherworld and its leader, principal of darkness Bea “Elsa” Bubb.

The Spyglass Entertainment project will adapt the first book of the series, “Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go,” written by Dale E. Basye and illustrated by Bob Dob. A second book, “Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck,” was published last year, and a third book, “Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck,” will be released in May.

Spyglass, which is looking at “Heck” as a big, effects-driven family adventure in the vein of “Beetlejuice,” is zeroing on a writer to adapt the book; Campanella will supervise the writing.

Campanella has been working in the U.S. on the TV side of the business on and off for more than a decade. He recently directed episodes of Fox’s “House” and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU.”

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