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Starz has found the star of its upcoming drama series Sweetbitter.
Ella Purnell will play the lead role in the television adaptation of Stephanie Danler’s national best-selling novel. In addition, Emmy winning writer-director Richard Shepard has joined the six-episode series from Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment as an executive producer. Shepard, who directed a dozen episodes of Girls, will helm the series premiere.
The hot project landed at Starz in July after a multiple-network bidding war. Sweetbitter, described as Kitchen Confidential meets Bridget Jones, is a young woman’s coming-of-age story that takes place in the world of exclusive restaurants. It centers on 22-year-old Tess (Purnell), who shortly after arriving in New York City lands a job at a celebrated restaurant downtown. She’s quickly introduced to the world of drugs, alcohol, love, lust, dive bars and fine dining, and learns to navigate the chaotically alluring yet punishing life she’s stumbled into.
Danler wrote the script for the drama with Stu Zicherman (The Americans, The Affair) attached to develop the script with her. The pair will serve as executive producers alongside Shepard. Donna Bloom will serve as producer, with Laura Rosenthal leading the casting search.
“Ella’s portfolio of work and the array of her characters and performances in her young career are truly remarkable. We are excited for fans of the book and audiences to meet Tess,” said Starz president of programming Carmi Zlotnik. “We are also excited by Richard’s vision to bring the book’s richly written sensory experiences from the page to the screen.”
Purnell is best known for her role in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The 21 year-old British actress also appeared in Never Let Me Go, Kick-Ass 2 and Maleficent. Shepard directed the pilots for Criminal Minds, Ugly Betty and Rosewood, in addition to his extensive work on Girls. His feature credits include The Matador, starring Pierce Brosnan, and Dom Hemingway, starring Jude Law.
Purnell is repped by WME and Sloane Offer. Shepard is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment, Anonymous Content and Jakcoway Tyerman.
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