Penelope Spheeris has been tapped to direct the story of Sex Pistols lead singer Johnny Rotten (real name: John Lydon) and the birth of punk rock in 1970s England. Budgeted at about $8 million, the fi

Penelope Spheeris has been tapped to direct the story of Sex Pistols lead singer Johnny Rotten (real name: John Lydon) and the birth of punk rock in 1970s England. Budgeted at about $8 million, the film will be produced by Rhino Films and Panacea Entertainment and is based on Lydon's autobiography "Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs" (St. Martin's Press, 1994). Shooting is planned to begin early next year.

The project brings Spheeris back to her roots -- she first achieved acclaim for 1981's Los Angeles punk rock documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization" before going on to direct such feature films as "Wayne's World" and "The Little Rascals."

"Johnny Rotten hasn't really gotten credit for all that he did with the band," Spheeris said. "I think it's time that people understand from his perspective what happened back then."

Lydon will be active as a creative consultant and will oversee the development of the film and the script, which is being written by Jeremy Drysdale (who also is working on a Gram Parsons project). Additionally, because of Rotten's involvement, the filmmakers will have access to all of the Sex Pistols' music for use in the movie.

An open casting call will take place in England to find the right Rotten, according to Spheeris. As far as the look of the film, she said, "Being that it's punk rock, I think it has to be pretty fast and furious and raggedy."

"Rotten" will be the second feature film to use the Sex Pistols' story as a backdrop. Alex Cox's 1986 film "Sid and Nancy" told the chilling love story between Nancy Spungen and Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, played by Chloe Webb and Gary Oldman, respectively.

Spheeris' other credits include "Suburbia," "Dudes" and "The Beverly Hillbillies." She most recently directed a documentary of Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest concert tour, called "We Sold Our Souls for Rock and Roll."

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