Woody Allen cast as a pimp in new Turturro comedy

TORONTO, Canada - Woody Allen is a pimp, John Turturro is his gigolo-employee and Sharon Stone buys his escort services.

It is an absurd premise, but working from his own screenplay, Turturro's exploration of what it would be to be a middle-aged man for hire tickled audiences at the Toronto film festival, where his comedy "Fading Gigolo" premiered this week.

In the film, Turturro ("The Big Lebowski," "Transformers" and "O Brother Where Art Thou") plays a New York florist, Fioravante, and friend to Murray (Allen), who is faced with having to close his bookstore because "nobody is buying books anymore."

Desperate, they decide to turn to the world's oldest profession to make a few bucks.

Sharon Stone ("Basic Instinct"), looking to spice up her marriage with a menage-a-trois, is Fioravante's first client, taking him out for a test drive before introducing him to her husband.

Allen, 77, has not starred in a film he didn't direct since the forgettable 2000 comedy "Picking up the Pieces." He's currently in France working on his next film.

But he and Turturro, 56, both Brooklyn-born New Yorkers who reportedly share a barber, look to be having great fun together onscreen, deciding on aliases Dan Bongo and Virgil Howard, and sorting out whether to charge clients by the hour or per visit.

"In the midst of Allen's remarkable resurgence behind the camera, it's a thrill to watch him work onscreen with someone else's material," said film festival boss Cameron Bailey.

"His wit and his rhythms are in fine form here, and Turturro knows how to use the legend to best effect."