You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Writer paints globe in ’50 Shades’

Women's Impact Report 2012

EL James’s “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and has become a pop cultural phenomenom, spawning think pieces about “mommy porn” and marketers using the notoriety of the books to sell everything from CDs to ties to weekend getaways.

“Grey,” James’ first novel, was born out of a “Twilight” fan fiction site. but in place of vampires, it focuses on the complicated sexual relationship between Anastasia Steele and her not much older lover, Christian Grey. James published the first novel as on on-demand print book and ebook through the Writers’ Coffee Shop in May 2011. Now, James says, it feels like she’s always working, except when she’s “sleeping or doing the laundry.”

Universal co-chairman Donna Langley says she “couldn’t put the book down” and that she “quickly saw the potential for film audiences to become as invested in the complex characters” as she had.

Val Hoskins, James’ U.K. literary agent, doesn’t love the phrase “mommy porn” that’s been associated with the novel but likes to think of it as a love story. Hoskins has been working overtime with James on the flurry of success that’s following the “50 Shades” trilogy.

The “50 Shades” phenomenom created a frenzy of interest in Hollywood, but in the end, U and Focus Features nabbed the film rights. Michael DeLuca and Dana Brunetti will produce. James is heavily involved in the project.

Though these women are heavily involved in one of the most highly anticipated book-to-film properties of the past year, charity is still important. Langley is a supporter of the Chrysalis Foundation, which helps the homeless forge a path toward self-sufficiency. Hoskins supports Centrepointe refuge centre for the young homeless since “they could be my children … they are somebody’s.” James is a supporter of the Winnie Mabaso Foundation, which helps children in South Africa orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

With all the press and pending projects surround “50 Shades,” how these three women balance their work and family seem to be just varying shades of grey. Hoskins swears balance is “red wine — after 7 p.m.” Langley swears by organization, priorities and a great deal of support from family and friends. James is still searching. “If you find out, let me know.”

Donna Langley
Co-chairman, Universal Pictures
Under the watch of Langley and U Pictures chair Adam Fogelson, Universal’s North American box office hit $1.128 billion Sept. 24 — fueled by “Ted,” “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”and “Snow White and the Huntsman” — the highest in the company’s 100-year history. U has four more films set for 2012, including “Les Miserables” and Judd Apatow’s “This Is 40.” “Our film team has done a great job starting to turn things around and preparing the studio for the future. They have built some great new franchises, reinvigorated some older ones and acquired some very promising intellectual property. We are excited to see them execute on their plan in the years to come,” said Steve Burke, CEO NBC/Universal.

What we should know: “The allure of showbusiness is much about its mystique, so I’m not going to burst anyone’s bubble, dispelling myths and misconceptions by telling people how hard it actually is!”

Words of wisdom: “There is no substitute for hard work.”

Smartphone on vacation? : “Yes, but family is important so I try to set boundaries and only address urgent matters.”

Work week habits: “I work until the job is done.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Maleficent Mistress of Evil

    Korea Box Office: 'Maleficent 2' Debuts on Top, Deposes 'Joker'

    Given a Thursday opening, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted on top of the South Korean box office. The Walt Disney release earned $4.56 million from 612,000 admissions over four days. The fantasy adventure film accounted for 37% of total weekend box office in the country. “Joker” slipped to second after remaining on top for two [...]

  • Inside an Inox Leisure multiplex in

    India's Inox Multiplex Chain Reveals Ambitious Growth Plans

    Indian multiplex chain Inox Leisure has revealed ambitious plans to more than double its existing screen capacity of 600. The company is planning to add 900 more screens across the country over the next decade. “That’s the realistic answer, but my desire is to do it over the next five years,” Siddharth Jain, director, Inox [...]

  • Joker

    Why 'Joker' Is About All of Us (Column)

    Take a look at the photo above. It’s the most poetic image to have emerged from Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” and the reason I say “poetic” isn’t just because the shot has that caught-in-action indelible vibe of a quintessential movie poster: graphic, hauntingly composed, a bit shocking (at least, the first time you see it). It’s [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Rules International Box Office With $117 Million

    Though Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” stumbled at the domestic box office, the Angelina Jolie-led sequel enjoyed a far stronger start overseas. The follow-up to 2014’s fantasy adventure inspired by the “Sleeping Beauty” villain took off with $117 million from 56 international markets. In North America, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted with a meager $36 [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Dominates With Soft $36 Million

    Five years after Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” cast a spell over the box office, the villainous enchantress has returned to the top of domestic charts. Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” a sequel to 2014’s fantasy adventure based on the “Sleeping Beauty” sorceress, flew lower than the original and debuted to a disappointing $36 million from 2,790 [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content