Tommy Lee Jones books Hemingway pic

Will adapt, direct, produce, star in 'Islands in the Stream'

CANNES -- Tommy Lee Jones is taking on the work of Ernest Hemingway, signing on to adapt, direct, produce and star in the writer's posthumously published novel "Islands in the Stream."

Morgan Freeman and John Goodman also are in discussions to board the film.

"Islands" centers on the various life stages of a reclusive male painter named Thomas Hudson before, during and after World War II after he moves to the Bahamas. Like many Hemingway characters, Hudson, who in the tale has a stint working for the U.S. Navy and also endures a series of family tragedies, leads a complicated emotional life that he hides behind a stony exterior.

The book was published in 1970, after Hemingway's death, though when he was alive, the author actually broke off a piece of the novel and turned it into a novella that became "The Old Man and the Sea." Jones co-wrote the script with Bill Witliff, who wrote the screenplay for George Clooney action vehicle "The Perfect Storm."

The movie is being packaged by Gary Smith's exec producer and sales-agent shingle Intandem and Cassian Elwes' and Rena Ronson's William Morris Independent, with the former handling international rights and the latter selling domestic on the Croisette. Project will be presented to buyers at an event featuring Jones on Sunday at the Festival de Cannes.

The Hemingway adaptation marks the sophomore directorial effort of Jones, who helmed Mexican mystery "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada."

"Islands," which is set for an estimated $30 million budget, will shoot in Puerto Rico, with production scheduled to start in March.

Jones, who's next set to star in Bernard Tavernier's Southern detective story "Into the Electric Mist," will produce "Islands" with Eric Williams of Javelina Film Co.

Intandem is behind upcoming media-world dramedy "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People," while WMI will be selling Abel Ferrara's "Chelsea on the Rocks" on the Croisette.

Stuart Kemp contributed to this report.