EXCLUSIVE: In one of the more exceptional cast-attached movie packages to come along in awhile, Universal Pictures has acquired an untitled comedy that will be written and directed by Michael Patrick King and star Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock and Oprah Winfrey. It’s an ensemble comedy set in the world of a Home Shopping-type network, where characters make their way through the maze of mania that surrounds marketing, marriages and the media. The film will be produced by Scott Stuber through his Stuber Pictures banner. King, who wrote and directed two Sex and the City films after he exec produced the HBO series, told me that as he was looking to create his next vehicle, met with Stuber and they sparked to the idea for a comedy with well-drawn relationships that could draw a top-notch female cast. King decided to aim high. “I came up with the idea of writing for Meryl, Sandy and Oprah, and it became so specific to them that I wanted to be sure I had interest from these ladies,” King told me. “I put it in front of each of them and they all said yes. To have access to these women, tell them this story and hear yes was almost like a Greek mythological journey, with me going from one goddess to the next. It was humbling. They’re all unique, and the idea of writing parts that three strong women will play is such a challenge. Their body of work is beyond reproach. It’s also appealing to craft a character for Oprah to come back and play that’s not Oprah.”
King said he will begin writing immediately, and expects to have the script done by January. Availability of the actresses will be an issue, but the hope is to get this into production as King’s next directing effort by next summer or fall. The talent-laden package was put together by CAA, which reps King and the actresses. Universal got first shot at it because Stuber’s based at the studio, and Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson took it off the table before it went elsewhere.
Streep recently signed to star with Julia Roberts in a John Wells-directed adaptation of Tracy Letts’ play August: Osage County for The Weinstein Company. Bullock is negotiating to star with Robert Downey Jr in the Alfonso Cuaron-directed Gravity at Warner Bros and will star with Tom Hanks in the Stephen Daldry-directed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for Warner Bros and Paramount. Winfrey’s last live action starring role came in the Jonathan Demme-directed Beloved in 1998.