HBO cultivates 'Gardens' film


HBO Films has greenlighted "Grey Gardens," a movie starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange that's based on the 1975 documentary about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' eccentric cousin and aunt.

The movie is based on the documentary by Albert and David Maysles. It follows the relationship between the mother-daughter duo of "Big Edie" (Lange) and "Little Edie" Beale (Barrymore), who spent most of their lives in a decaying mansion on New York's Long Island.

The project was originally announced as a feature film in early 2006, though HBO Films was not involved at the time.

Along with Barrymore and Lange, other original auspices on board are commercials helmer Michael Sucsy, who is directing and wrote the script with Patricia Rozema ("This Might Be Good"), and executive producers Rachael Horovitz ("Little Black Book") and Lucy Barzun Donnelly ("The Go-Getter"). David Coatsworth (HBO's "John Adams") is producing.

It's yet to be determined if the movie will be released theatrically before it airs on HBO.

Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale made national headlines in 1971 when the Suffolk County Health Department raided their dilapidated East Hampton, N.Y., mansion -- named Grey Gardens -- and found more than 50 cats, raccoons, fleas, piles of garbage, human and cat excrement and no heat or running water. The department threatened to kick the pair out of the 28-room mansion before Kennedy Onassis stepped in and paid to help clean it up.

Big Edie died in 1977, and Little Edie sold the house to Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn two years later. Little Edie went on to become a nightclub singer before eventually moving to Florida. She died in 2002.

It's not the first time the documentary has been adapted. In spring 2006, "Grey Gardens" opened as a musical at Playwright Horizons before moving to Broadway in November at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The show, starring Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson -- both of whom won Tony Awards for their roles -- ended its Broadway run in July. Ebersole will reprise her role when the show opens this season in London.

Barrymore's upcoming credits include the films "He's Just Not That Into You" and "South of the Border." She is repped by CAA and attorney Steve Warren.

Lange's recent credits include CBS' "Sybil" and the film "Bonneville." She is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and attorney Diane Golden.