Schepisi casts romantic drama

Lesley Mann, Anthony LaPaglia, Jacki Weaver, Melissa George, Gia Carides and Josh Lucas head the cast of Fred Schepisi’s The Olive Sisters.

A romantic drama adapted from Australian author Amanda Hampson’s 2005 novel, it’s due to start shooting mid-year in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Mann will play Adrienne Bennett, a successful PR executive whose life unravels when her business fails. She’s forced to move from her New York apartment to a small rural community in Australia, where she inherited a run-down olive grove from her Italian grandparents.

After overcoming culture shock she discovers the family she barely knew and strikes up a friendship with the ruggedly handsome Joe.

Simon Baker was announced today as playing Joe and dutifully reported on, but his CAA agent Peter Levine told IF The Mentalist regular is not attached.

A parallel narrative follows Adrienne’s grandparents who worked hard to establish the olive grove to provide a legacy for their two daughters, Isabelle and Rosanna. They take local mining engineer Jack under their wing and he falls in love with and marries Isabelle.

Mann's credits include The Other Woman, This is 40, Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

The producers are Sorelle Productions’ Bonnie Burgess and ScreenCorp’s James M Vernon, his second collaboration with the director after his Media Funds Management co-financed The Eye of the Storm.

Ian Baker, who shot Schepisi’s Words and Pictures, The Eye of the Storm and Empire Falls, is the DoP and David Hirschfelder (The Dressmaker, The Water Diviner, The Railway Man) is composing the music.

Schepisi said, “The story, made so popular by Amanda Hampson, skillfully captures the moments, emotions and thoughts that we all have in common, as we strive to discover who we really are and what our place in the world is and why belonging to family really matters.”

Universal Pictures will distribute for ScreenCorp in Australia/New Zealand. Arclight Films is handling international rights excluding North America and will kick off sales at Berlin’s European Film Market this month.