For Viola Davis and Leslie Jordan, "The Help" Is on the Way

PlayBlog   For Viola Davis and Leslie Jordan, "The Help" Is on the Way
When Fences folds July 11 at the Cort Theatre, Tony Award nominee Viola Davis (and former winner) heads South almost immediately to play another unsinkable survivor, Aibileen, the wise and regal Mississippi maid at the heart of Kathryn Stockett's megaseller, "The Help."

The 2009 novel, Stockett's first, rested more than 50 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List. It chronicles the complex relationships between black housekeepers and their white employers in a pre-Civil Rights Mississippi. Its central character is Miss Skeeter, an archetypal Southern belle (Ole Miss grad, Class of '62) who returns to her Jackson home to find that the family maid (the woman who raised her) was let go without explanation after several decades of service. This prompts her to interview other black women who, like her own maid and surrogate mother, helped to raise the white children of the families for which they work.

DreamWorks is reportedly courting newcomer Emma Stone (of "Superbad," "Zombieland" and this month's "Marmaduke") for the role of Miss Skeeter.

The film will also employ another current stage performance — Leslie Jordan, who will officially roll up his pink carpet on July 3 to accommodate the shooting.

"It's the first time I was offered a feature — y’know, where I didn’t have to audition or beg and plead,” the comic confessed. “I play the editor of the local newspaper. The movie is directed by a dear friend of mine who I just thought was worthless. His name is Tate Taylor. I knew him when he was an actor. We did Southern Baptist Sissies together. Somehow, he has marched into Steven Spielberg’s office and wangled a big new DreamWorks feature. I just almost fell on the floor!"

Taylor (who helmed two film shorts) and his producing partner, Brunson Green, and novelist Stockett all grew up within a one-mile radius of each other in Jackson, MS.

—Harry Haun

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