Roberts tapped for Root biopic


London-based production powerhouse Working Title Films is partnering with star Julia Roberts to make an as-yet-untitled movie based on the life of African wildlife conservationist Joan Root.

Roberts will star as Root, who was murdered in her Kenyan home in January. David Magee ("Finding Neverland") is writing the screenplay, which was inspired by a Vanity Fair article by Mark Seal entitled "A Flowering Evil."

The movie will follow Root's life with wildlife docu-making partner and husband Alan Root and how, after their divorce, she returned to her home on Lake Naivasha, where she devoted herself to saving the lake from the ecologically damaging flower-farm industry. She subsequently was shot to death.

Woring Title will produce the project in association with Roberts' production banner Red Om. The producers are Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Roberts, with Liza Chasin, Debra Hayward, Lisa Gillan and Phil Rose serving as executive producers. They will aim to film on location in Africa next year.

For the first time since 1999, Working Title co-chairs Bevan and Fellner hosted a luncheon for selected press to trumpet the company's upcoming projects and release slate. The duo also unspooled five minutes of "Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth: The Golden Age."