Next to Shakespeare, Austen is one of the most widely adapted English writers. The plots of her novels have been modernized, satirized, idolized, and revised every which way. And she’s as popular as ever, judging by projects in the works:
- The BBC is once again filming a mini-series of “Emma,” for release this fall. The four-part series stars Romula Garai (“Atonement”) in the title role, with Jonny Lee Miller (who played Edmund Bertram in 1999’s “Mansfield Park”) as Mr. Knightley. We last visited “Emma” in 1996, which saw the release of both a BBC miniseries (starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong) and a feature film. I’m not sure anyone can top the latter, with Gwyneth Paltrow’s delightfully dizzy Emma and Jeremy Northam’s devastatingly charming Mr. Knightley, but more of “Emma” can never be a bad thing. Thanks to the folks at Pemberley.com, you can see set photos of Romula Garai and Jonny Lee Miller. And there’s a video slide show of the filming in Kent on YouTube.
- After having fun with the popular and highly regarded “Bride and Prejudice,” Bollywood is tackling “Ayesha,” the Indian equivalent of “Emma.” “Slumdog Millionaire” star Anil Kapoor is producing, and his daughter, Sonam Kapoor, plays the title role and Abhay Deol is her Mr. Knightley.
- Columbia is planning a film version 0f the delightfully twisted 2008 TV mini-series “Lost in Austen,” with Sam Mendes (director of “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road”) as executive producer. Guy Andrews, who wrote the TV script, will pen the movie script as well. No word yet on who will direct or star.
- “Jane Austen Handheld,” a comic adaptation of Pride and Prejudice told from the point of view of a fly-on-the-wall documentary crew, is scheduled for release in 2010. British actor and comedian Stephen Fry is set to play Mr. Bennet, and UK pop singer Lily Allen will play Lydia Bennet. Fry should make a very wry Mr. Bennet.