EXCLUSIVE: Jacqueline Susann’s classic 1966 novel Valley of the Dolls is getting a series treatment by Oscar-nominated Precious director Lee Daniels. NBC has bought the period project, from 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment, with a script commitment plus penalty. Daniels is set to write and direct the TV series version, which will be based on the 1967 Valley of the Dolls feature adaptation, as well as executive produce with Chernin and Katherine Pope. UPDATE: This is one of 3 recent drama sales for Chernin Entertainment, which also set up at Fox Gina Fattore’s Second Chances, about a female trauma surgeon who has to cope with the fact that she was the only survivor of a car crash that killed her best friend (the project received a script commitment plus penalty), and Jon Cowan’s legal thriller spec script Truth.
Valley of the Dolls, which has sold more than 30 million copies, spans over two decades to chronicle the lives, career highs and ultimate self-destruction of three female best friends: Anne Welles, who works at a Broadway talent agency; Neely O’Hara, a vaudeville star; and Jennifer North, a showgirl. The title of the book refers to a slang for sleeping pills that the three women eventually become dependent on. The novel previously was adapted as a movie in 1967 produced by 20th Century Fox and starring Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke and Sharon Tate; as a mini-series in 1981 produced by 20th Century Fox TV; and as a late-night soap in 1994. This marks the broadcast debut of CAA-repped Daniels, who on the cable side was previously attached to an HBO multi-generational family written by Amy Bloom. On the feature side, Daniels’ follow-up to Precious, The Paper Boy — starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron — will be released next year. There are two 1960s period drama series that launched this fall, ABC’s Pan Am, which got off to a strong start last night, and The Playboy Club, which was soft in its opener last Monday.