Harpo Films sets sensual pilot at network

Oprah Winfrey has a surprising project in the works. Her Harpo Films has made a deal with HBO to team on a sexually charged hourlong series pilot about a woman who leaves her seemingly perfect marriage and children in Santa Monica for the underbelly of L.A., where she indulges her secret fantasies and desires.

Pilot is being written by Erin Cressida Wilson, best known for writing 2002 indie pic “Secretary,” which starred James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal film in the story of a boss-secretary relationship that veers into S&M.

Winfrey and Harpo Films president Kate Forte will be executive producers along with Wilson.

The pilot is a high priority at the pay web. The idea was hatched by Forte, who pitched it to HBO prexy Sue Naegle right after Harpo made a deal to generate series and miniseries.

“It is unsentimental and pretty shocking, and there is something complicated and destructive driving her,” Forte said. “It is literally a day at the pool, where she gets up, in sarong and flip-flops, and walks out of her life, leaving everyone behind so abruptly that her husband and kids initially think she’s been kidnapped or murdered.”

Harpo Films previously set at HBO “Ida Tarbell,” a miniseries about the true-life muckraking journalist who helped expose the unfair practices of John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil monopoly.

On the film side, Harpo Films is producing for Focus Features a Sam Mendes-directed adaptation of the Joseph O’Neill novel “Netherland” and is partnered with Playtone for an adaptation of the David Wroblewski novel “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” at Universal.

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