Two weeks ago in an interview with the director, Noah Baumbach told The Playlist he was still intent on making "The Emperor's Children," a novel he had adapted a few years ago for Brian Grazer's Image Entertainment. And so intent to make it he had evidently decided to take over the directing gig from Ron Howard for whom he had originally penned the script.
And the filmmaker, who just released his latest indie film "Greenberg" starring Ben Stiller, wasn't kidding. Evidently the numbers the film did in its opening weekend limited release were enough to impress (the second highest per screen average of the year behind Polanski's “The Ghost Writer”) as Baumbach has now been able to officially announce "The Emperor's Children" as his next project.
And he has a stellar cast to boot. The Wrap is reporting that Keira Knightley, Eric Bana and Richard Gere are all attached to star in the film, and finances aside, the project is looking to start production this summer with Howard and Grazer on board as producers. That's incredibly fast, but again, 'Children' was written several years ago and first announced in 2006.
What's it about? Well, it was described as a "contemporary comedy of manners" (how perfect for Baumbach) set before in post 9/11 New York and was based on Claire Messud's novel centering around apprehensive Ivy League grads in Gotham approaching their 30s with trepidation and anxiety. Evidently like almost all 20-somethings with naive lofty ambitions, these characters are not quite in the place of their professional and personal lives that they expected and it's all causing existential woes. Here's the Amazon synopsis:
Marina Thwaite, Danielle Minkoff and Julian Clarke were buddies at Brown, certain that they would soon do something important in the world. But as all near 30, Danielle is struggling as a TV documentary maker, and Julius is barely surviving financially as a freelance critic. Marina, the startlingly beautiful daughter of celebrated social activist, journalist and hob-nobber Murray Thwaite, is living with her parents on the Upper West Side, unable to finish her book"titled The Emperor's Children Have No Clothes (on how changing fashions in children's clothes mirror changes in society). Two arrivals upset the group stasis: Ludovic, a fiercely ambitious Aussie who woos Marina to gain entrée into society (meanwhile planning to destroy Murray's reputation), and Murray's nephew, Frederick "Bootie" Tubb, an immature, idealistic college dropout and autodidact who is determined to live the life of a New York intellectual. The group orbits around the post"September 11 city with disconcerting entitlement"and around Murray, who is, in a sense, the emperor. Messud, in her fourth novel, remains wickedly observant of pretensions"intellectual, sexual, class and gender. Her writing is so fluid, and her plot so cleverly constructed, that events seem inevitable, yet the narrative is ultimately surprising and masterful as a contemporary comedy of manners.Clearly Knightley will play Thwaite and Bana will play either Minkoff or the Aussie Ludovic (he is from Oz himself, after all), which likely means another star will be added. The Wrap says Gere will have a supporting role and he's probably not one of the characters mentioned above. It almost sounds like a continuation of the themes explored in "Kicking & Screaming," with young erudite college students, but this is a similar group of privileged white people almost a decade later who seemingly haven't lived up to their promise.
Apparently Ron Howard decided to direct the infidelity comedy with Vince Vaughn and Kevin James ("Paul Blart: Mall Cop" the upcoming Adam Sandler comedy, "Grown Ups") tentatively titled , "Your Cheating Heart" instead.
Baumbach also has an adaptation of Curtis Sittenfeld's "Prep" written for Paramount waiting in the wings as well and who knows, at this unexpected fast clip, that could be next. "Both those novels — 'Emperor's Children' and 'Prep' — are really great and were really fun to adapt, because the voices were so particular and strong and it's really enjoyable to work off something that's already so solid," Baumbach told us recently.