'Pray' author to adapt series about U.S. expatriates

On the heels of a round-the-world trek with “Eat Pray Love,” scribe Jennifer Salt is tackling the culture of American expatriates in China as a series project for HBO.

Salt has been tapped to adapt the memoir “Foreign Babes in Beijing” by Rachel DeWoskin. She’s working on the script with DeWoskin and the author’s husband and writing partner, Zayd Dohrn.

Project, tentatively titled “Babes in Beijing,” revolves around an American actress who works on a Chinese TV soap opera — a character inspired by DeWoskin’s experience — but the larger focus is on the woman’s life with her ex-pat friends as a means of examining cultural differences between China and the U.S.

Salt knows the territory well, having spent a good deal of time in Beijing during the past decade. Her son, Jonah Greenberg, works as a tenpercenter for CAA’s Beijing office. Former HBO exec Anne Thomopoulos brought Salt into the project, knowing her connection to the city. Salt, Thomopoulos and Anna Garduno are exec producers on the project, with DeWoskin and Dohrn serving as co-exec producers.

Salt said she’s eager to capture the vibrancy of modern-day Beijing, which she has watched grow into “a completely international, lively and futuristic place” with a nonstop nightlife.Where American romantics once dreamed of escaping to Paris or Prague, now Beijing has an allure “as a place where young people go to live out a particular kind of ex-pat fantasy,” Salt said. The show will be built around a large ensemble of actors of many nationalities.

“Beijing is a place where you can go and try on all kinds of hats. It’s also a place where you can hide really easily,” Salt said.”The show is about the search for identity.”

Should it be greenlighted, the plan is to shoot at least part of the pilot in China.

She knows that lensing in China can take some doing to get all the necessary approvals. “That’s where my son comes in,” she quips.

Salt recently co-wrote the Sony Pictures adaptation of “Eat Pray Love” with Ryan Murphy. , who also helmed the Julia Roberts starrer that opens Aug. 13.She spent six seasons working with Murphy on the FX drama “Nip/Tuck.”

The daughter of famed screenwriter Waldo Salt, the scribe began her career as a thesp whose credits range from “Midnight Cowboy” to “Soap.”

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