The impresario Simon Fuller, who created the Spice Girls and now works with Victoria Beckham in fashion and her husband David in football, is to make his move into the Hollywood film industry. Fuller will be the executive producer of a feature film starring the young British heartthrob Robert Pattinson, known to his legion of young female fans as "RPattz".
The British entertainment mogul is now likely to explore a number of other movie projects, including film treatments of the lives of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, sources say. Fuller is a director of CKX, the media company which owns the global film rights for both of these iconic American figures.
First, Fuller will oversee the film adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's erotic novel Bel Ami. Pattinson will star opposite Nicole Kidman as a young man who rises to the top of Parisian society in the 1890s, via the bed-chambers of the city's most powerful women. Pattinson is best known for his appearance in last year's romantic fantasy Twilight and for the part of Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
In recent months Fuller has been spending time in California with influential Hollywood figures including Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax films, and Jerry Bruckheimer.
Fuller is involved in a joint venture with Ali, 67, and his wife Lonnie, and brought the couple to Britain in August on a fund-raising tour for the former boxer's favourite charities. CKX (the C and K stand for Content is King) includes among its subsidiaries Elvis Presley Enterprises, which manages Elvis's estate, Muhammad Ali Enterprises, and 19 Entertainment, the London-based business founded by Fuller.
Having created Pop Idol and turned it into one of the world's most successful television brands, including America's biggest show, American Idol, Fuller is branching out into multiple areas of the entertainment industry.
Earlier this year, 19 Entertainment acquired Storm model agency, which has Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford and Emma Watson on its books, among others. Fuller also recently launched a website, Fashionair, and has clinched a deal with the BBC to bring his American show So You Think You Can Dance to British television in January.
19 represents music acts including Pop Idol winner Will Young, American Idol diva Kelly Clarkson and the country-and-western singer Carrie Underwood, who is managed from the company's office in Nashville. His first foray into feature films is a further indication of the breadth of his global media and entertainment empire.
Fuller, 49, who lives between London and Los Angeles, has a personal wealth estimated by The Sunday Times Rich List at £300m, and his company has three offices in America and others in London and Paris. He represents David Beckham and the tennis star Andy Murray. With the Beckhams he has developed a range of branded clothing and perfume with a retail value in excess of £120m.
Shooting of Bel Ami will begin in February and filming will take place in London and Budapest. The film will be directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, the founders of acclaimed British theatre company Cheek By Jowl, which is best known for its Shakespearean productions. The producer of the movie is Uberto Pasolini, who worked on The Full Monty and Palookaville.
Fuller, 49, is the son of an RAF pilot-turned-teacher. He was born in Sussex and grew up in Cyprus, Germany and Ghana, where his father founded schools. He worked as a talent scout for Chrysalis record company and went into management at the age of 24. The name 19 Entertainment stems from "19", the name of the hit dance record by his first client, the electro-pop musician Paul Hardcastle.