By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com October 11, 2011 at 1:14AM
Yes, It's Another Version Of 'Pride & Prejudice'
It's easy to dump on Nora Ephron. And in many ways, justified, certainly to anyone who's had to sit through "Mixed Nuts," or "Michael," or "Lucky Numbers" or "Bewitched." But she did, of course, write the stone-cold classic "When Harry Met Sally," and, maybe it only feels that way because so many of those who've been influenced by her have botched the rom-com genre so badly, but when she gets it even half-right, as in "Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail" or "Julie and Julia," there are few who can do what she does as well as she does it.
Ephron turned 70 this year, but with her last film proving so successful, she's clearly not been given up on yet (although her last project, a biopic of Peggy Lee with Reese Witherspoon, appears to have come to naught), and she's just landed another big gig, one that's been in the works for a while now. Variety report that Ephron will direct "Lost in Austen," a film adaptation of a cult British TV series that aired on the ITV network back in 2008. The plot involves a 21st century London gal (who'll be a New Yorker in the film), who magically switches places with the heroine of Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice," Elizabeth Bennett, and tries to ensure that events unfold as in the novel, but soon finds herself falling for the handsome but surly Mr. Darcy.
The original series, written by Guy Andrews, was an enjoyable bit of fluff, elevated by a strong cast, which included a young Gemma Arterton as Lizzie Bennett, Alex Kingston and a pre-"Downton Abbey" Hugh Bonneville as her parents, and the terminally undervalued, why-isn't-he-as-big-as-Tom-Hardy British actor Elliot Cowan (who played Stanley to Rachel Weisz's Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire" in London) as Darcy. We imagine that Ephron, who'll also write the script for the project (set up at Sony), will start from scratch, but a British connection is being maintained; Sam Mendes, who snapped up the rights shortly after the series aired, is shepherding the film with producing partner Pippa Harris, through their Neal Street Productions company.
While we're not sure we need another take on "Pride & Prejudice," Ephron's a fairly good fit for the material, so we're not totally opposed to this. At the very least, it'll hopefully help to put the final nail in the creaking corpse of "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies," which is still unable to cast its lead. There's no word on a timeframe, but we imagine Sony would like to get this before cameras next year for a release in 2013.