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Streep, Kidman, Paltrow circle ‘Hours’

Trio may take leads in Cunningham adaptation

NEW YORK — Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow are in talks to play the three lead roles in “The Hours,” a David Hare-scripted adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Cunningham novel.

Scott Rudin is producing the film, and if the cast crystalizes, he will quickly set it up at a studio. He bought the book with his own money (Daily Variety, Aug. 3, 1999), much the way Rudin and David Brown ponied up for Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, “Angela’s Ashes.”

Novel, published in 1988 by Farrar Strauss Giroux, is an homage to Virginia Woolf and her book “Mrs. Dalloway.” “The Hours” revolves around three female characters from different periods in the 20th Century, related only by a parallel in their personal lives. One is Woolf, who is depicted working on the novel in 1923 as she recovers from depression; another is an L.A. housewife who reads Woolf’s novel in 1949 as she plans her husband’s party and ponders her miserable existence as she awaits the birth of their first child; a third is a contemporary woman in New York planning what will be a farewell party for her AIDS-inflicted former lover, who nicknamed her Mrs. Dalloway.

Corralling such talent has been a chore, and Rudin has been talking with the actresses for more than a month. Streep, who starred in the Hare-scripted “Plenty” and Kidman are in active talks, while Paltrow’s participation isn’t fully set in stone. Rudin will look to lock in cast and a director quickly. The actresses are repped by CAA.

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