DreamWorks will give screen treatment to The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel about the relationship between African-American domestics and their wealthy white employers in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi. The deal creates an extraordinary opportunity for Tate Taylor, who wrote the script and will direct. An actor who appeared in the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning film Winter’s Bone, Taylor has only directed one feature. But he is completely intertwined with the author and her first novel, a relationship that goes back long before The Help became a phenomenon after being published by the Putnam imprint Amy Einhorn Books.
Taylor and Stockett grew up in Mississippi, close enough that his mother inspired one of the white characters. His reward for serving as a sounding board was an early read. He optioned film rights at a time when Stockett couldn’t find an agent, much less a publisher. I first wrote about the book last year, when Taylor made a deal for the book with Chris Columbus and his 1492 cohorts Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe. They will produce with Brunson Green.