Sandra Bullock has agreed to star in a film about “Peyton Place” author Grace Metalious, whose million-selling novel scandalized the nation 50 years ago and eventually ruined the author’s life.
Bullock is co-producing with Carol Baum, whose previous films include “Fly Away Home” and the remake of “Father of the Bride.” Naomi Foner, whose credits include “Running on Empty” and “Bee Season,” is writing the screenplay.
“Grace Metalious was a housewife with three kids running around with runny noses, living in a town (Gilmanton, N.H.) where she didn’t belong, didn’t fit in,” Baum told The Associated Press in a recent phone interview. “Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anybody, she was writing the sexiest novel in history, in her kitchen.”
Metalious’ novel of sex and scandal in a small New England town, based partly on Gilmanton, was published in the fall of 1956. Although it was banned in several cities, “Peyton Place” became one of the best-selling novels in history and led to a popular movie starring Lana Turner and Hope Lange.
But Metalious never recovered from her sudden notoriety. Her marriage fell apart, her children were harassed and the author herself received threatening calls and letters. She became a heavy drinker and died of cirrhosis in 1964, at 39.
“She was ahead of her time, but not in a self-conscious way,” Foner told the AP. “She was one of those people who told the truth, almost naively talked about it, and got vilified for talking about it. I’m not sure if she had the muscle to deal with it.”