'Wives' scribe jumps into 'Water'

Marking the return of Jackie Collins to a bigscreen project for the first time since the late 1970s, the bestselling author has pacted with Anonymous Content and Focus Features to develop the romantic comedy “Fish Out of Water.”

Collins will produce with Steve Golin and Larry Kennar of Anonymous Content. Barry Krost will serve as exec producer, with Focus exec vp of production Joe Pichirallo overseeing development of the project for the studio.

Script is being penned by Ardwight Chamberlain, based on a story by Collins. Central character is a young woman from the Midwest who comes to Hollywood to marry a studio mogul and finds herself in rich-and-famous central but unexpectedly falls in love with the caterer.

“I’m very impressed with Focus,” Collins told Daily Variety. “I think they’re terrific, and we’ve had some wonderful creative meetings. I think it’s time for a really fun romantic comedy, and I think there’s a wonderful role for a lead actress like a Kate Hudson or a Renee Zellweger, because I always aim high.”

While Collins was involved in a run of screen projects of the late ’70s that included “The Stud,” “The Bitch” and “The World Is Full of Married Men,” all of the author’s work since then has been produced for television.

“I wanted to do something original, and the last feature I did was an original movie called “Yesterday’s Hero” in ’79,” explained Collins. “I did four movies that year.”

While Collins does not exclude the possibility of spinning “Fish Out of Water” into a novel, she stresses it will be different in tone from her “Hollywood Wives” franchise.

“This will be a very tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy,” the author said. “It will be different from those books because it will be a broader scope, almost like ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ but it will be ‘Alice in Hollywood.’ ”

Collins’ books have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. Her 24th novel, “Hollywood Divorces,” is due out Dec. 2 through Simon & Schuster.

The author recently wrapped “Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives — The New Generation,” starring Farrah Fawcett, Robin Givens, Melissa Gilbert and Jack Scalia and produced by Collins, Renee Valente and Tom Patricia. It airs Oct. 19 on CBS.

Anonymous Content and Focus are in post on Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, scheduled for a 2004 release.

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