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Cannes: Penelope Cruz to Star in Drama ‘Layover’

In a pre-Cannes move, Penelope Cruz has come on board to star in and produce the drama “Layover” with Toni Kalem directing from her own script.

Cruz will produce with Animus Films’ Jim Young and Serena Films’ Tatiana Kelly. Fortitude International’s Nadine de Barros and Robert Barnum are executive producing and Fortitude International is financing.

The project, currently in pre-production, is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by best-selling author Lisa Zeidner. The book was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

The story focuses on a successful traveling saleswoman, who decides to go on the lam from her life. A master of reinvention, she develops elaborate scams for sneaking into hotel rooms, alone or with a guest, and a passion for swimming in their pools.

Fortitude International is handling foreign rights and will present the project to buyers in Cannes.

“Toni Kalem’s beautifully layered adaptation of Lisa Zeidner’s acclaimed book is a provocative blend of humor and heartbreak,” Kelly said. “With the addition of the incomparable Penelope Cruz to our team, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase such strong female talent both in front of and behind the camera.”

Cruz became the first Spanish actress to win an Oscar, taking the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2008 for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” She was also nominated for “Volver” and “Nine.”

She was recently filming Fernando Trueba’s “The Queen of Spain” opposite Cary Elwes, set in ’50s Madrid. “Queen of Spain” is the sequel to Trueba’s 1998 drama “The Girl of Your Dreams,” which also starred Cruz in a story set during the Spanish Civil War with Joseph Goebbels falling in love with Cruz’s character.

Kalem starred as Angie Bonpensiero on the HBO series “The Sopranos.” She optioned Anne Tyler’s novel “A Slipping-Down Life,” directed from her own screenplay (her first) and cast Guy Pearce, Lili Taylor and John Hawkes. The film was an official selection at Sundance and distributed theatrically by Lionsgate.

Kalem recently acquired the film rights to Tyler’s novel “A Spool of Blue Thread,” which was shortlisted for The Mann Booker Prize.

Kalem is repped by WME and Surpin & Mayersohn.

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