Philomena director Stephen Frears is reteaming with Pathé for another project about an eponymous real-life female protagonist. Currently in pre-production, Florence is the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress and socialite who coveted a career as a great opera singer, but who lacked any real ability. Meryl Streep is attached to play the title role with Hugh Grant also attached for the role of her partner and manager St Clair Bayfield. Bayfield was an aristocratic English actor who was determined to protect Florence from the truth that while the voice she heard in her head was beautiful, to everyone else it was hilariously awful.
Baz Bamigboye at the Daily Mail first tipped the news and Pathé International, which will begin sales at the AFM next month, has now confirmed details. The film has a script by Nicholas Martin which will tell Foster Jenkins’ story through to her 1944 Carnegie Hall concert which sold some 3,000 tickets. She died a month later.
Michael Kuhn (The Duchess, Being John Malkovich) and Frears’ longtime collaborator Tracey Seaward (Philomena, The Queen) are producing. Frears is coming off of Studiocanal/Working Title’s untitled Lance Armstrong biopic with Ben Foster. Streep, who really can sing, stars in Disney’s Christmas musical release Into The Woods; Grant is next up in Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. They are both repped by CAA.
For the uninitiated, below is a recording of Foster Jenkins singing “Adele’s Laughing Song” from Die Fledermaus. Maureen Lipman starred in Glorious! a West End version of her story in 2005 that was written by Peter Quilter. There was also a Broadway revue about her that same year, but her life has never been brought to the screen: