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Whit Stillman Writing/Directing ‘Cosmopolitan’ For Amazon Studios; Moving His Jane Austen Movie Idea Into Novel Form

by Edward Davis
January 29, 2014 5:54 PM
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Kevin Scanlon

Is Amazon Studios the next Netflix? Not quite, but it’s not for lack of trying and some have already called them a Hollywood threat. Lots of stuff is cooking over there: the John Goodman-starring political comedy “Alpha House,” Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Barbarella;” even the “Zombieland” series may potentially land there. “World War Z” director Marc Forster’s “Hand Of God,” starring Ron Perlman, is also nearing an official pilot green light.

One more joins the fray, this one from “Barcelona” and “The Last Days Of Disco” filmmaker Whit Stillman. Titled “Cosmopolitan” (Stillman’s first film was “Metropolitan,” for those keeping score), Stillman will write, direct and executive produce, and the show will chronicle the loves and adventures of a group of young expatriates in Paris (Stillman spent plenty of time there during his “in the wilderness” period after going more than ten years between films; ‘Disco’ in 1998 and “Damsels in Distress” in 2011). It was also recently announced that Stillman would be working on a Jane Austen-inspired book titled, “Love & Friendship: An Adaptation of Jane Austen’s Unfinished Novella Concerning the Beautiful Lady Susan Vernon, Her Loves and Friendships, and the Strange Antagonism of the DeCourcy Family.”

Presumably this is a kind of first run at the similar Jane Austen-inspired movie that Stillman was kicking around last year? Considering the same titles, basically yes. So what’s up with that movie? We asked on Twitter and Stillman responded with, “all in due time…” (though admittedly, that tweets seems to have been deleted). It wouldn’t be the first time Stillman wrote a novel of his own work, though the order would be in reverse. After “The Last Days Of Disco” in 1998, Stillman released a novel (but not novelization form) of the movie in 2000 called, “The Last Days of Disco, With Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards.”

Also over at Amazon Studios "Invasion" creator Shaun Cassidy is making "Hysteria," about a doctor who travels to her hometown of Houston to investigate an epidemic among high school girls that may be spreading through technology. That one doesn’t sound quite like our cup of tea but hey, good news, we may not have to wait 10 plus years for something else from Whit Stillman. Rejoice already. [Deadline]

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  • Billy DaMota CSA | February 21, 2014 3:24 PMReply

    Just so sad that the casting department for that show is accepting a fee to meet actors in so-called "workshops", and using the name and the director to make dough on the side - all from actors' wallets.

  • Ben | March 30, 2014 12:08 PM

    I agree, Billy. They charge over 100 bucks to meet actors for the chance of getting scene for shows. Not many people get seen and it's usually people with agents with lots of credits and 20 smgth who get the part who were pushed by a casting director or agent. Mr Stillman likes to cast girls who have shown their tits and ass in films and so if you are new to Hollywood you should meet him at a strip club for an audition.

  • squordian | January 30, 2014 7:59 AMReply

    I think Metropolitan is his best movie. Discuss.

  • Barbara | January 30, 2014 12:24 PM

    I think it is his most cohesively thought-out work and the one that holds up best on a second or third viewing. I might put Barcelona second. I had a lot of problems with Damsels in Distress, didn't think Stillman connected with his characters at all.

  • Ingrid | January 30, 2014 7:37 AMReply

    A few years ago, the Morgan Library in NYC held a panel on the subject of Jane Austen (in tandem with their lovely Austen exhibit, which was framed around Lady Susan. The Lady Susan, penned in Austen's own hand was on display and two of the people on the panel were a mother and daughter (Jane and Caitlin) who had written a book called Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, adapted from Lady Susan. Austen was at the time and continues to be a draw and when first I heard of Mr Stillman's project I was excited. I have always thought that Lady Susan was an little diamond of a work and I loved the Lady Vernon book which I thought was one of the better Austen adaptations.
    Now I am more confused than excited. In Jane Austen's earliest collection of short works, of which Lady Susan was the last before she began her first novels, was a tale called Love and Friendship. This is not Lady Susan but an entirely different work. Lady Susan itself was written when Jane Austen was 19, but not published until the 1870s. Also, it was not an unfinished work, but a complete short epistolary novel.
    It may be more economically rational to take an advance for writing a book than to raise money for a film, but on the other side, a Lady Susan movie would be unique, whereas a Lady Susan book would seem something of a "bandwagon" move, just one more writer diving into the subgenre of Austeneseque work.

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