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Viola Davis Options Rights To Award-Winning Novel "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree"

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 12, 2011 at 2:46AM

A follow-up to my post a few days ago on Viola Davis creating a production company with her husband, and the projects she plans to produce with it, specifically one that she described as "a period piece about African-American homesteaders."
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A follow-up to my post a few days ago on Viola Davis creating a production company with her husband, and the projects she plans to produce with it, specifically one that she described as "a period piece about African-American homesteaders."

Well, I think we now know what the project is. Entertainment Weekly caught up with Viola while on the red carpet for Tuesday night's premiere of The Help, and she not only talked about the news of her creating a production company to "expand the options for black actors" but also about a book she's optioning titled The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, a 2008 title written by Ann Weisgarber, a book I haven't read.

So what's it about? Here's how Amazon.com describes it:

The story begins as Rachel DuPree, wife of one of the only African-American ranchers in the Badlands in 1917, watches her husband, Isaac, lower their six-year-old daughter, Liz, down a well to fetch water in the midst of a terrible drought. Though she concedes it must be done, Rachel--heavily pregnant with her eighth child--is distraught, and her worries set off a chain reaction of second-guessing her loyalty to Isaac, whose schemes include buying out the neighboring ranch and leaving the family to find work during the winter. As a series of calamities befall the family, Rachel must decide whether to follow the only man she has ever loved or strike a new path of her own. Rachel's homely voice isn't the most inviting, and while the racial tensions between whites, blacks, and Native Americans is pretty surface-level, Weisgarber's depiction of survival in the harsh Badlands has its moments.

Hmmm... another title to add to my ever-growing to-read pile. Anyone read it? And if so, thoughts?

It's a period piece, as already stated, and given many of your reactions to past posts on films set in America's turbulent racial past, I suspect some of you won't be too thrilled about this one.

It spans generations, and we’re committed to it,” Viola said.

Naturally, the question of funding immediately arises. This isn't the kind of material Hollywood studios are particularly interested in (considering the main protagonists aren't white, nor does it appear the story is told from a white person's POV). But who knows. Viola's name may carry a little more weight now than it did a year ago, and she does headline at least one other upcoming drama.

Although she may also find financing independently. I'm guessing she also plans to star in the film adaptation.

But I'm certainly curious, and will buy the book to read, and share my thoughts on it afterward.

This article is related to: casting, Things That Make You Go Hmm..., Book To Film


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