January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Is Evita director Alan Parker really the right man to adapt Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt’s bittersweet Irish memoir? In addition to his don’t-cry-for-me pedigree, Parker knows his way around the Celtic blues. He directed 1991’s The Commitments, about a roguish group of down-and-out Dubliners. David Brown, who’s coproducing the Paramount fall movie with Scott Rudin, predicts that even though church solemnity pervades Ashes, it will also have its share of laughs. ”Angela’s Ashes is about survival,” says Brown, ”but it’s also extremely funny. That’s why we fell in love with it.”

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