Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Who is Stephen Sheppard?

Born in England’s westcountry and brought up in South Devon, Stephen went to the famous Dartington Hall Arts College, initially studying art, then gravitating to drama.After a year travelling the Mediterranean, including working on Libyan oil-fields, he returned to London and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
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Graduating with many prizes, he went straight into television series and films: Villain with Richard Burton, who became a friend, and Lady Caroline Lamb, written and directed by Robert Bolt, who became not merely a lifelong friend but also mentor and encouraged Stephen’s writing.Stephen left the National Theatre of Olivier, Hopkins and Jacobi to be a ‘script doctor’ for several years until David Niven Jnr suggested that his script about the greatest Bank of England fraud be written as a book.
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‘The Four Hundred’ broke many records, achieving as a first novel the most money (one million dollars) paid by Warners for film rights at that time, putting the deal into the Guinness Book of Records. Independently the book grossed another $1.5 million, at which time David Lean invited him to Zurich to finish work on ‘The Bounty’, ‘The Lawbreakers’ and ‘The Long Arm’, at the news of triple-Oscar-winner Robert Bolt suffering a stroke.
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‘Monte Carlo’ followed, by which time he was living in Monaco, and was made into a major mini-series with Joan Collins at her zenith, garnering for him $600,000.


‘The Artisan’ as a novel was filmed as ‘Seven Minutes’, for which he wrote the screenplay, with Klaus Maria Brandaur and Brian Dennehey, book and film income estimated at around $400,000.
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The novel ‘For all the Tea in China’ became a screenplay acquired at $500,000 by Joe E. Levine with a set cast of Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Roger Moore. It was only at Joe’s death that the rights reverted to Stephen.
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Throughout the nineties he wrote many synopses and screenplays, some ‘on spec’, many commissioned: ‘The Smoke that Thunders’, ‘First Impressions’, ‘Capri Numbers’, ‘Chase the Sun’, ‘Florentine’ (Paramount), ‘Medici’, ‘Old Flames’, ‘Wildest Dreams’, ‘Out of Time’, ‘Second Thoughts’, etc., until the current ‘The Lady from Lhasa’. Stephen recently finished his latest novel, ‘Kingdom’.
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He also recently spent some time in Tangier to begin a thriller, ‘The Pillars of Hercules’, and to negotiate projects with the Moroccan government in Rabat: ‘1001 nights’ and ‘Ibn Batuta’, the former a major television series based upon the fabled Arabic tales, the latter an epic film of the greatest Tangeroise traveller prior to Marco Polo.
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A recent project now being finalised as an international television series is ‘Orient Express’, a modern drama series for which Stephen has established a full co-operation deal with ‘Venice Simplon Orient Express’, the company running the train and fifty-two luxury hotels worldwide. In partnership with Alan Ladd Jnr (‘Braveheart’ and studio head of numerous others), they are searching to find a European base to furnish an initial one-year run of twenty-two stories hour-long for global distribution.Stephen’s knowledge of the Americas and indeed Europe, having lived there, is extensive, from the Middle East to Dublin and from New York and on through Texas to Beverly Hills and Palm Springs, where he had homes for a considerable time.
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English born but truly cosmopolitan.