Fox Searchlight to produce new family dramedy

Alexander Payne and Fox Searchlight are reteaming on family dramedy “The Descendants,” Payne’s first feature since “Sideways.”

Payne begins lensing in Hawaii at the end of the year or early 2010. Project isn’t yet cast.

Filmmaker is in the midst of polishing Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s script, adapted from Kaui Hart Hemmings’ debut novel of the same name.

Set in Hawaii, “Descendants” tells the story of a wealthy landowner who takes his two daughters on a search for his wife’s lover in the hopes of keeping his family together.

Payne, Jim Burke and Jim Taylor are producing through their shingle Ad Hominem.

After waiting nearly five years to direct his next feature, Payne has two projects ramping up: “Descendants” and “Downsizing.”

Paul Giamatti, Sacha Baron Cohen and Reese Witherspoon have all committed to starring in “Downsizing,” a social satire in which Giamatti’s character realizes he would have a better life if he shrank himself.

Payne opted to shoot “Descendants” first in order to give “Downsizing,” a larger production, more prep time.

While Payne hasn’t shot a feature, he’s served as exec producer on HBO skein “Hung.”

(Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.)

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