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‘Sheba’ attracts Streep

Two time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep is attached to star in the adaptation of Jacki Lyden’s bestselling memoir “Daughter of the Queen of Sheba” for Wind Dancer Films.

Wind Dancer recently picked up the rights to the memoir by the National Public Radio correspondent, who also will serve as a consultant on the project (Daily Variety, Oct. 20, 1997).

The book — which was released last month by Houghton Mifflin — tells the story of a woman who used her mother’s madness to empower herself. Streep is attached to play Lyden’s mother, a mentally unstable woman whose series of delusions formed the crux of Lyden’s upbringing in a small Wisconsin town. Her mother’s regular delusions included wrapping herself in a bed sheet and declaring, “I am the Queen of Sheba and I bequeath to each of my daughters a country. … To you, Jacki, the oldest, Mesopotamia.”

As a foreign correspondent for NPR during the Gulf War, Lyden reportedly used her upbringing to bolster her strength, often repeating the mantra, “I am the daughter of the Queen of Sheba” during the din of combat.

Though Wind Dancer has a production pact with Disney, its prexy, Susan Cartsonis, said the company intends to put an entire package together before submitting the project to Disney or any other studio. Streep was the first step in that process.

Streep has several starring vehicles in the hopper, including Carl Franklin’s “One True Thing” at Universal as well as the film adaptation of Brian Friel’s legit production “Dancing at Lughnasa,” helmed by Pat O’Connor.

She also has been mentioned to co-produce and co-star with Glenn Close in “Mary Stuart,” based on Friedrich Schiller’s play. Streep also reportedly is interested in producing and starring in “Burke” for Miramax.

Streep’s recent credits include “Marvin’s Room,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “The River Wild” and “Death Becomes Her.”

Wind Dancer recently finished production on its first feature, “Firelight,” written and directed by William Nicholson and starring Sophie Marceau.

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