Respect! Ali G signs up to make a series of films

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The Independent Culture

Ali G is to star in his first film - for real. Sacha Baron Cohen, the Channel 4 comic creation's alter ego, has signed up his wannabe gangsta rapper character to Working Title, the company behind Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill.

Eric Feller and Tim Bevan, Working Title's founders, are said to be considering a number of films to exploit the popularity of Ali G, who achieved success with his spoof interviews, hoaxing such figures as Tony Benn. The Ali G character, satirising the pretensions of white middle-class children trying to adopt the street language of black youth culture, was a hit with the people it intended to poke fun at.

The film projects are likely to be announced by Working Title in Cannes in the next few days. A spokeswoman said yesterday: "Nothing has been positively green-lighted but we are in talks with Sacha and there is the possibility of a slate of movies." Ali G would spearhead the films that will come out under Working Title 2, Felner and Bevan's operation for low-budget British films.

Another will be Dancer, the debut of Stephen Daldry, former Royal Court Theatre director, about a boy ballet dancer in north-east England.

Peter Greenaway also announced his latest project yesterday. Madonna is to star with the former Blondie singer Debbie Harry in a trilogy by the director, noted for his complex art-house films.

Entitled The Tulse Luper Trilogy, it focuses on the effect on the 20th century of the discovery of uranium, and ends in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Luper is a fictional writer likely to be played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who appeared in The Talented Mr Ripley.

A spokesman for Greenaway confirmed he had had talks with Madonna. They are under-stood to have got on famously and she is said to be ready to sign up. Shooting will start this year but work will continue for a long time, so that the pregnant singer will not need to be on the set until well after the birth of her baby.

There will be a cast of 90. Also in the frame are the British actor David Thewlis, the comedian Dawn French and Isabella Rossellini. Harry has already agreed to be in the film.

The films are only a part of Greenaway's project. There will also be a linked 52-part international television series, CD-Roms and an internet site. Shooting will be all over the world, starting in the Utah desert in autumn.