EXCLUSIVE: Ellen DeGeneres is teaming with Storyline partners Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to produce Sing You Home, a feature film based on the bestselling novel by Jodi Picoult. DeGeneres will be involved solely as producer on this, and I’m told it’s a passion project for her. She optioned it with her own money and enlisted Zadan and Meron. They will develop it themselves.
The novel is about a woman who spends 10 years before finally getting pregnant. Seven months in, the child is stillborn, her distraught husband can’t take anymore and leaves her. She throws herself into her career as a music therapist and unexpectedly develops a romantic relationship with a female guidance counselor. This newfound happiness makes her reconsider having a family again, and she remembers that she and her husband left behind several frozen embryos. Unfortunately, her ex has become involved with an evangelical church, run by a charismatic pastor who has pledged to fight the “homosexual agenda” he feels is endangering traditional family values. The ex-husband and pastor take issue with his ex-wife’s desire to use the embryos. Much the way that Picoult’s novel My Sister’s Keeper found an emotional way into the controversial topic of genetic planning (that book was turned into a movie directed by Nick Cassavetes), Picoult’s Sing You Home takes on the issues of in vitro fertilization and gay rights, arguments that end up in the courtroom.
Zadan and Meron take on the project with DeGeneres as they prepare for Sunday’s Broadway opening of How to Succeed At Business Without Really Trying. The revival, anchored by the Broadway stage musical debut of Harry Potter‘s Daniel Radcliffe, heads into its opening after selling out its preview performances. Zadan and Meron just completed the remake of Footloose for an Oct. 14 release through Paramount. They are also shooting Smash, the pilot they are producing with Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks and NBC starring Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston. ICM reps DeGeneres.