Tommy Lee Jones taking on Hemingway project

Thu May 15, 2008 2:59am EDT
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By Steven Zeitchik

CANNES (Hollywood Reporter) - 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, which follows a 1977 version starring George C. Scott.

"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, nine years after Hemingway killed himself. He actually broke off a piece of the novel and turned it into a novella that became 1952's "The Old Man and the Sea." Jones co-wrote the script with Bill Witliff ("The Perfect Storm"). The project will be presented to buyers at Cannes on Sunday.

The Hemingway adaptation marks Jones' sophomore directorial effort, after the 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 not scheduled to start until March.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Tommy Lee Jones, best actor Oscar nominee for "In the Valley of Elah" arrives at the 80th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 24, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>