In a competitive situation, Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment has acquired the rights to the recently published historical novel The Swans Of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin, the bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife, for an adaptation as a premium cable limited series to star Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World).
The project tells the story of the star-crossed friendship between Breakfast at Tiffany’s author Truman Capote and socialite snd style icon Babe Paley (Howard) — who was married to CBS founder William Paley — in the mid 1950s. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, leading to the ultimate betrayal of Babe and the other Swans in her circle.
In addition to starring, Howard, who brought the book to RatPac, is set to produce through her Nine Muses Entertainment. Ratner and John Cheng will produce for RatPac Entertainment.
“I am someone who has carried an endless fascination for The Swans with me since I was a teen so naturally I devoured The Swans Of Fifth Avenue overnight,” Howard said. “Melanie has brought this iconic time to life: the rarefied, scandalous, extravagant high-society world and the dazzling and mysterious women at the center of it all. This story is as full of pathos as it is entertaining. I am exhilarated to have the opportunity to bring Melanie’s book to life along with Brett, John, and the whole team at RatPac. We have long hoped to partner on a project, but I never dreamt that it could be this much of a personal wish fulfillment!”
Paley previously has been portrayed on screen by Joan Severance in Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story (1998), by Michelle Harrison in Capote (2005) and by Sigourney Weaver in Infamous (2006).
The Swans of Fifth Avenue was published in January by Ballantine Bantam Dell. It is already in its fifth printing and has made the New York Times best seller list.
“Bryce Dallas Howard tipped us off to this incredible book and we were immediately blown away by Melanie’s salacious characters and stories,” Ratner said. “We are fortunate to be working with such a talented actress such as Bryce.”
On television, RatPac Entertainment recently sold the half-hour comedy LA82 to Amazon with director Jeff Blitz and The Divine Monster to Fox with Ugly Betty Creator Silvio Horta. Ratner, who executive produced Prison Break, is exec producing the CBS series Rush Hour, based on the hit feature franchise he directed. On the feature side, RatPac Entertainment has a slate financing deal with Warner Bros. and most recently financed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and co-financed and produced The Revenant, with New Regency.
Howard recently completed production on Netflix’s new series Black Mirror, where she stars in an episode directed by Joe Wright. She will next be seen in Disney’s Pete’s Dragon with Robert Redford, and opposite Matthew McConaughey in Stephen Gaghan’s Gold for The Weinstein Company. Howard also is set to reprise her starring role from blockbuster Jurassic World in the upcoming sequel. She is repped by WME Entertainment and Management 360.
The book is repped by Bill Contardi for TV and Laura Langlie for publishing.