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Chris Columbus fast-tracks ‘Help’

His 1492 Prods. readies adaptation of Stockett novel

Chris Columbus’ 1492 Prods. has fast-tracked a screen adaptation of “The Help,” the bestselling Kathryn Stockett novel about African-American domestic servants and their wealthy white employers in Mississippi before the civil rights era.

Tate Taylor has written the script and will direct; 1492 partners Columbus, Michael Barnathan and Michael Radcliffe will produce with Brunson Green of Harbinger Pictures.

The novel has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 35 weeks since its publication in February by Putnam imprint Amy Einhorn Books.

Taylor got involved well before it became a literary sensation for Stockett, a first-time author who was reportedly rejected by 50 agents. Taylor grew up with Stockett in Mississippi — his mother inspired one of the Mississippi matriarchs in the novel — and was so helpful to the author that she gave him an early peek; an option was made well before the book came out.

Taylor, an actor-turned-director who previously directed the 2008 feature “Pretty Ugly People,” showed the book to Columbus, whom he met in San Francisco because Taylor’s niece and nephew attended the same school as Columbus’ kids.

Shingle 1492 is already meeting on financing; plan is to put the pic into production next spring in the South. The producer has the benefit of first-look relationships with India-based Reliance Big Entertainment and Korea-based CJ Entertainment, and Reliance has shown the strongest interest.

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