Coolidge, producer Stein in pic biz

Joan Stein, who produced the long-running legiter “Love Letters” in L.A. and is currently producing “Ruthless! The Musical” here, is prepping a feature film with director Martha Coolidge.

The project, “Owning Jolene,” is based on a novel by Shelby Hearon with a script by Susan Gauthier.

Stein is co-producing with Elizabeth Williams, who recently co-produced the national tour of “Crazy For You” and is also a producer on “Ruthless.” Coolidge, who has expressed interest in directing, is involved in the project’s development.

“Jolene” is a coming-of-age story about a 19-year-old girl from Texas who becomes a model for a famous artist and, in the process, begins to learn about herself. Stein and Williams, who jointly financed the script development, are now casting the indie project. They do not have a distributor yet.

Additionally, Stein has bought the movie rights to “Ruthless,” which is in an extended run at the Canon Theater in Beverly Hills. Playwrights Joel Paley and Melvin Laird are developing the script for the musical comedy about stage mothers.

“I first saw ‘Ruthless’ in New York in 1992 and loved it,” Stein said. “Now we’re considering taking it to London.”

She has also teamed with television producer Karen Danaher-Dorr (CBS’ “When He’s Not a Stranger”) on three telepic projects, including a TV adaptation of Lou Anne Rice’s novel “Blue Moon.”

The two women had previously produced “Crazy in Love,” a project that aired on TNT 1992, directed by Coolidge and starring Holly Hunter.

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