The Curse of the Holy Grail: THE DA VINCI CODE; Dan BrownOs Novel Is Being Turned into a Film Starring Tom Hanks. ItOs Already Causing a Stir I and Not in a Good Way

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Byline: Flavia Bertolini

Whether you think best-selling book The Da Vinci Code is a badly written bit of fluff or a scathing indictment of the Catholic Church, we all knew it was only a matter of time before Hollywood got their glitzy mitts on Dan BrownOs mega-successful novel. The Da Vinci Code was published in 2003 and since then, it has sold over 20 million copies, earning the American author an estimated pounds 140 million.

The novel claims to have discovered the secret of the Holy Grail I the OfactO Jesus married his disciple Mary Magdalene and they had a child whose descendants are still around today. Despite Catholic groups labelling the book as blasphemous, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard is currently filming the screen version of the book with Tom Hanks as the hero Robert Langdon. Amelie actress Audrey Tautou stars as his sidekick, Sophie Neveu.

But things arenOt exactly going smoothly on the shoot. Tom Hanks and the crew have filmed scenes in Scotland, Rome, the Louvre in Paris, Tower Bridge and Scotland Yard in London, and Lincoln, even though they were confronted with a picket line of angry nuns when it came to filming scenes in Lincoln Cathedral. Church leaders only allowed the filming to go ahead after producers donated pounds 100,000 to cathedral funds.

Brits Sir Ian McKellen and Paul Bettany also star in the film, which is due out in May 2006 and is costing pounds 53 million to make. Sir Ian plays eccentric millionaire Sir Leigh Teabing, who helps Tom and Audrey in their quest, but who has a dark secret of his own. We spotted Paul Bettany on location at Tower Bridge I he plays scary albino monk Silas, whoOs a member of Opus Dei, an extreme organisation within the Catholic Church. His aim is to hunt down anybody who gets too close to the truth.

But the film hasnOt just been slated by the church. The National Organization For Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) has asked Ron Howard to make sure the film does not portray its albino character as a red-eyed psycho I despite the fact thatOs how he is described in the book. …