John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” has gotten a second wind in Hollywood.
Universal and Imagine Entertainment are tying up a deal with the Steinbeck estate for an adaptation to be written by Paul Attanasio for Ron Howard to direct and Brian Grazer to produce.
Steinbeck’s modern retelling of the Cain and Abel story was published in 1952, and was turned into a 1955 film starring James Dean.
“East of Eden” was the first book Oprah Winfrey selected when she revived her book club, propelling it to the bestseller list.
A deal is nearly done with the estate and Jonathan Sanger and Ed Elbert of Grand Illusions are being assigned as producers by the estate.
Howard and Grazer have tapped Attanasio to return to the pages of the Steinbeck classic, rather than doing a straight remake of the Warner Bros. film.
Set in Steinbeck’s birthplace of Salinas, “East of Eden” is about two generations of sibling feuds.
Howard is currently shooting “Cinderella Man” with Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger for Universal and Miramax. He is likely to follow that with “The Da Vinci Code,” which reunites the “A Beautiful Mind” team of Howard, Grazer and scribe Akiva Goldsman; Grazer will produce at Columbia with John Calley. “East of Eden” could be the film Howard makes after that.
Universal Pictures vice chairman of production Scott Stuber and exec VP Donna Langley will oversee the film with Imagine veep David Bernardi.
Attanasio just completed for U a survival-themed drama that will be produced by Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Section Eight partners Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney.