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Producers Line Up to Do 'Fifty Shades of Gray': Let the Best Woman Win

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by Anne Thompson
June 14, 2012 7:48 PM
4 Comments
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EL James
EL James

Finding the right producer to shepherd bestselling erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" to the screen is crucial for Brit author E.L. James. She and her lit agent Val Hoskins made the first decision, to let Universal Pictures (co-chairman Donna Langley was crucial) and specialty label Focus Features finance and release the film project. Scoring a franchise is the holy grail in Hollywood, and the success of "Harry Potter" and "Hunger Games" proves how crucial it is to do it smart.

So E.L. James and Hoskins met with Hollywood's top producers this week to find the right fit. I will say here and now that a woman producer is a good idea. This material is intimate, sexually charged and aimed at women, and men are likely to make the mistake of trying to include the male audience in their sights. That would be disastrous. Half of the population is women, as Meryl Streep pointed out this week, and they also make women's movies into hits, from "Bridesmaids" and "Mamma Mia!" to "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Iron Lady."

Thus I lean toward the women on the short list of producers that Variety reports today. As strong as Michael DeLuca ('A Social Network," "Moneyball"), ex-Universal production chief Scott Stuber (who tends toward high-octane action flicks like bomb "Battleship") and in-house Universal 500-pound gorillas Ron Howard and Brian Grazer ("A Beautiful Mind," "Apollo 13") may be, frequent Quentin Tarantino producers Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg and "Hunger Games" producer Nina Jacobson (with Brad Simpson) would be better. Jacobson, however, will be deep in development and production on her "Hunger Games" sequels.

Despite my push toward a woman producer, the idea of letting Focus chief James Schamus (he wrote Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") take a stab at it is a good one. He's an experienced, sensitive and intelligent writer who would appreciate the delicacies of this material.

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4 Comments

  • Brie | August 23, 2012 4:01 PMReply

    Listen...The person who should absolutely play Christian Grey is Gabriel Macht from the tv show suits...He's what exactly invisioned Christian Grey to look like...He's got that buisness look already down and he's sexy as hell...Why has noone thought of him! He would absolutely fit this part!

  • ptw19 | June 15, 2012 1:46 AMReply

    It doesn't matter who directs the movie because my friends and I are not paying to see watered down sex scenes and I don't think we're alone either. We'll stick with the books and imagining Rob and Kristen having all that hot sex!

  • jon | June 14, 2012 11:19 PMReply

    Shamus actually wrote "The Ice Storm" for Ang Lee. "Ice Age" is an animated Fox franchise.

  • Elizabeth | June 14, 2012 9:07 PMReply

    I'm beginning to think anyone who writes about this series is somehow on the payroll to promote it. "...delicacies of this material."? Are you kidding me? There's nothing delicate about this story.

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