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Bringing Notes Of A Scandal To The Screen
"Now more than ever, we are bound by the secrets we share.” -- Barbara Covett

In this age of loneliness, isolation and disconnect, we live in cities that house millions of people yet everyone at one time or another yearns for companionship, for someone to reach out and connect with us on some level...any level. This is the universal feeling that comes through in Zoë Heller's 2001 page-turner of a novel, What Was She Thinking: Notes On a Scandal, a suspenseful story of loneliness and obsession that cuts, with equal parts dark humor and realism, right to the shadowy center of the human yearning for connection. Readers were drawn in by Barbara Covett's blisteringly funny, yet ultimately deceptive, revelations about her so-called friendship with fellow teacher, Sheba Hart. Between Sheba's dangerously ill-conceived affair with a student and Barbara's own "spin” and hidden agenda, what might have been merely a character study unfolded more like a thriller. Eventually, the book would garner not only widespread acclaim but numerous awards, including being short-listed for the coveted Man Booker Prize for English literature. The rights were quickly acquired by leading producers Scott Rudin and Robert Fox, who also recently brought Michael Cunningham's beloved, multi-stranded novel The Hours to the screen. Rudin had already contracted with leading playwright and screenwriter Patrick Marber to tackle the adaptation, knowing he would create a brilliant screenplay.

When noted theatre and film director Richard Eyre was approached by Rudin and Fox about directing the film version of NOTES ON A SCANDAL he, like so many others, had already read the book. Eyre had found it at once funny, touching and beautifully observed -- precisely the kind of material that intrigues him. Says Eyre: "I saw it as a story of friendships and sexual intoxications. It's really a tale of two obsessions, of two women in the grip of their own self-destructive, uncontrollable passions.”

Eyre and Rudin had previously collaborated with great success, along with Judi Dench, on the acclaimed IRIS, the film about the extraordinary life-long love affair between the brilliant author Iris Murdoch and her devoted husband, John Bayley as well as the critically lauded stage production Amy's View. IRIS garnered both an Oscar® and Golden Globe® for Jim Broadbent, as well as Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Dench and Kate Winslet. Eyre next directed the critically praised STAGE BEAUTY, a comedy-drama set on the 17th Century London stage, but had since returned to the theatre, directing two highly successful and utterly opposite productions: the new musical stage version of Mary Poppins in London and on Broadway and his fresh adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's classic drama Hedda Gabler in London's West End.

"I'd just done the two extremes of the spectrum in theatre – so to get back to filmmaking with a project with the fantastic credentials of NOTES ON A SCANDAL was irresistible,” he comments.

Marber's adaptation would be challenging, as Heller's novel was written as a series of highly subjective journal entries in the pen of Barbara Covett which he masterfully crafted as diary entries, slowly revealing through her unreliable words the depths of her delusions and manipulations when it came to Sheba Hart. But based on Marber's previous body of work, there was no doubt that he was up to the task. He recently came to the fore as the author of the play Closer, a darkly funny look into the realities of love and desire which won the Olivier, Evening Standard and both London and New York Critics Circle Awards for Best Play before going on to write the adaptation of the acclaimed feature film.

Now, Marber had to come up with a way to turn Zoë Heller's distinctly literary approach to the story of Barbara and Sheba into something far more dynamic, immediate and cinematic.

"I did find writing this<

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