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Kasi Lemmons Set To Helm “On Beauty” Based On Zadie Smith Novel

Kasi Lemmons Set To Helm "On Beauty" Based On Zadie Smith Novel

Some exciting news for fans of Lemmons and author Zadie Smith!

Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, Talk To Me) is set to adapt and direct On Beauty, based on Zadie Smith‘s Booker Prize-nominated novel by the same name. 

We last posted about Lemmons plans to adapt Langston Hughes‘ gospel song play adaptation Black Nativity in June of last year. It looks like she’s still on track for developing that Fox Searchlight project.

On Beauty will be a co-production between Carol Polakoff (a journalist with a slate of novels to produce including Waiting For Bardot, Secret Sky, American Prometheus), Ruby Films and Film4.

Zadie Smith’s novel centers on the dynamics of two distinct families with their own set of values, beliefs, races and sexual politics, and how their lives are intertwined.

Here’s the description of the book (via amazon):

Howard Belsey, a Rembrandt scholar who doesn’t like Rembrandt, is an Englishman abroad and a long-suffering professor at Wellington, a liberal New England arts college. He has been married for thirty years to Kiki, an American woman who no longer resembles the sexy activist she once was. Their three children passionately pursue their own paths: Levi quests after authentic blackness, Zora believes that intellectuals can redeem everybody, and Jerome struggles to be a believer in a family of strict atheists. Faced with the oppressive enthusiasms of his children, Howard feels that the first two acts of his life are over and he has no clear plans for the finale. Or the encore.

Then Jerome, Howard’s older son, falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing icon Monty Kipps, and the two families find themselves thrown together in a beautiful corner of America, enacting a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register. An infidelity, a death, and a legacy set in motion a chain of events that sees all parties forced to examine the unarticulated assumptions which underpin their lives. How do you choose the work on which to spend your life? Why do you love the people you love? Do you really believe what you claim to? And what is the beautiful thing, and how far will you go to get it?

This book is on my must-read-right-now list. :-)

More details from Deadline:

The book is an academic comedy of manners, focusing on the story of two families with different but increasingly intertwined lives, race and sexual politics. It’s been called a modern day Howard’s End, which was an inspiration for the author. Alison Owen and Paul Trijbits of Ruby Films are producing with Carol Polakoff.

Polakoff, who came up the ranks as a journalist, is financing the development of her projects through a consortium of US and European-based private investors.

Who has read the book? Thoughts on cast?

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Bklyn Negress

I LOVED Zadie Smith's White Teeth but I thought On Beauty was just ok. However, I'm open to seeing the movie.


Colin Firth as Howard!

Pete Chatmon

I talked to Kasi today (we both teach at NYU) and she's doing her thing, excited about both of these projects. Definitely excited to see how these come together. Talk To Me is one of my favorite films from the last few years…


BTW Thom:
The only DVD I've seen thus far is only available to Region 2 DVD Players. It won't play in U.S. DVD Players. Looks like Hulu is the best option. Thanks Starfishncoffee!

Terence Nance

I am soo excited about this I can't contain myself.


@Ava, The White Teeth adaptation is available for streaming on Hulu (regular even) for FREE so everyone can see it! Yes Naomie Harris is splendid as usual, and I didn't realize Archie Panjabi from The Good Wife was in it, and also an itty-bity James McAvoy!

I'm so excited about this film, I'm giddy. Loved this book and I think it's ripe for a film adaptation. It's a complex, unique yet relatable story with strong characters and Kasi is perfect for it. I can't even begin to start imagining casting. I'll have to get back to y'all on that one.


It's nothing at all like The Inkwell. I enjoyed the book it but, I'm shocked it's being made in to a movie, especially before her novel "White Teeth", which was absolutely marvelous.


Loved this book! So glad this film is being made.


Finally! I've been waiting for new Kasi Lemmons info. Thanks!


Glad she's back.


This sounds like "The Inkwell" on steroids, with a touch of the BBC's Upstairs/Downstairs t.v. series?
but i am happy she's back at the helm;-).


Baby baby!!! Made my day!

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