'Teacher's' pets: Dayton, Faris

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Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, directors of the indie hit "Little Miss Sunshine," have set their sights on a new production, Warner Independent Pictures' adaptation of "The Abstinence Teacher," based on the forthcoming novel by Tom Perrotta.

The husband-and-wife directing team are in negotiations to helm the project, which will be written for the screen by Perrotta, author of "Election" and "Little Children."

Bona Fide Prods.' Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, who produced "Sunshine" and "Little Children," are set to produce.

The novel "The Abstinence Teacher," set to debut in the fall from St. Martin's Press, is set in small-town middle America, where a divorced sex-education teacher and mother of two is forced to contend with the town's more conservative groups. While fighting to keep her freedom to teach students about sex, she finds herself falling for her daughter's born-again soccer coach.

"I admire Jonathan and Valerie's work, and along with Albert, Ron and Tom, they are a very talented group with great sensibilities, and we're excited to work with them," Warner Independent president Polly Cohen said.

Susan Essex, senior vp business and legal affairs at Warner Bros. Pictures, negotiated the deal for WIP. UTA and attorney Warren Dixon negotiated on behalf of Dayton and Faris. Paul Federbush, senior vp production and acquisitions, will oversee the project for WIP.

WIP will open its next film, "The Painted Veil," starring Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, on Dec. 20.
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