NEW YORK — Marking the first book by the popular novelist to be adapted for the bigscreen, Armistead Maupin’s psychological suspense story “The Night Listener” will be produced by Hart Sharp Entertainment, with Patrick Stettner attached to direct.
Hart Sharp principals John Hart and Jeff Sharp and head of production Robert Kessel will produce. Maupin and writing partner Terry Anderson are working on the screenplay and will serve as exec producers.
The bestselling 2000 novel was inspired by a real-life mystery that consumed the author and Anderson for more than six years and resulted in a widely read New Yorker magazine investigation.
It centers on a San Francisco writer attempting to bounce back from a broken relationship, who strikes up a long-distance telephone friendship with a dying boy only to be confronted by troubling doubts about the boy’s identity.
‘Strangest episode’ of life
“It was the strangest episode of my life,” said Maupin. “I had no choice but to write about it.”
Stettner’s 2001 debut feature “The Business of Strangers,” starring Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles, premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to the Maupin feature, Stettner is penning a screenplay for Universal and producer Laura Bickford about Mata Hari, and is developing an untitled comedy with “Boys Don’t Cry” co-scripter Andy Bienen.
“This is a great project, the script is gripping and intelligent — it’s about one man’s search for the truth, and how the fiction we create is sometimes more revealing than the reality we avoid,” Stettner SAID.
End-of-year start seen
Hart Sharp expects to have a final script to go out to actors by early fall and is looking to set an end-of-year start date for shooting.
While Maupin’s six-volume “Tales of the City” cult series about San Francisco life has spawned three Emmy-nominated miniseries, “The Night Listener” is the first of his books to get feature treatment. The author also is adapting his novel “Maybe the Moon” for the screen.
Hart Sharp is in post-production on “A Home at the End of the World,” adapted from Michael Cunningham’s novel and directed by Michael Mayer, starring Colin Farrell, Robin Wright Penn, Sissy Spacek and Dallas Roberts. The film is expected to go out as the debut release under the fledgling Warner Independent Pictures banner.
In pre-production and slated for fall shoots, Hart Sharp has John Madden’s adaptation for Miramax of David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Proof,” with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal in negotiations to star; and “P.S.,” directed by Dylan Kidd (“Roger Dodger”).