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Tuesday, 27 August, 2002, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Coppola closer to Kerouac film
A young Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac, reluctant spokesman for the Beat Generation
Francis Ford Coppola's dream of filming Jack Kerouac's seminal work On The Road could soon become reality.

US author Russell Banks told the Edinburgh Book Festival at the weekend that his screenplay had been approved by the Godfather director.

"Pre-production is underway," said Banks.

"Hopefully the book will now finally appear on the screen."

Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola has long dreamed of making On The Road
Brad Pitt and Billy Crudup are among the stars being lined up to appear in the movie, which will be directed by Joel Schumacher.

Written in a stream of consciousness style, the novel chronicles its author's travels with drifter Neal Cassady through the United States and Mexico in the immediate post-war years.

When it was published in 1957, Kerouac was instantly hailed as a major American literary figure and thrust into the limelight as a reluctant spokesman for the Beat Generation.

Legendary Hollywood director Ford Coppola has long wanted to produce a film adaptation of On The Road based on the script by Banks, though many have said it is unfilmable.

Coppola bought the rights to the book many years ago but finally ended wrangling over who would direct the film by appointing Joel Schumacher, famed for the Batman series of movies.

Resurgence

Brad Pitt is set to play Dean Moriarty, the character based on Neal Cassady, while Billy Crudup - who starred alongside Pitt in Sleepers - will play Kerouac.

The new film comes as interest in Kerouac and the Beat generation of the 1950s is resurgent.

Last month the original manuscript for the book sold for almost £1.8m at an auction in New York.

The 120-foot long paper roll was typed by Kerouac in a three-week marathon said to have been fuelled by coffee and drugs in April 1951 and was bought by James Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts America football team.

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