DreamWorks is moving quickly on their plans to adapt Kathryn Stockett's The Help, having picked up the novel's rights just a few weeks ago and already close to casting a star. Variety reports that Emma Stone, best known as the hottie from Superbad or the tough hottie from Zombieland, is in talks to play lead character Skeeter Phelan, with Tate Taylor on board to direct.

The Help is told primarily from the point of view of Stone's character, a recent college graduate returning to her small Mississippi hometown in the early 1960s, where the town is still sharply divided along racial lines. Skeeter gets the idea to write a novel that tells the stories of the black women who act as maids and nannies for the wealthy white families, and in doing so alienates herself from both the debutantes and socialites she grew up with and her own family.

It's a pretty lovely book, but a tricky one to adapt-- the movie could very, very easily veer into the Blind Side "white woman helping black people rise up" territory that the novel avoided. Plus, casting Stone seems dicey as well-- she's not a Southerner, and a film set in Mississippi is pretty much ground zero for bad Southern accents. Add in the fact that director Taylor is fairly inexperienced, and is Stockett's childhood friend, and you've got a recipe for a vanity project that's so slavish to the book that it ruins everything about it.

I could be wrong, of course, and the accent thing is just my specific pet peeve that gets me worked up every time a Yankee is cast to play a Southerner. It will be really interesting to see who they cast as the "help," as there are three great roles for black actresses in there. If they have natural Southern accents, that will be a definite plus.

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