Entertainment Weekly‘s April 6 cover story features E L James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey”–the latest novel series taking Hollywood by storm.
From J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” phenomenon to Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series to Suzanne Collins’ recent smash hit with “The Hunger Games” trilogy, entertainment suits are thirsting for a sure thing with a built-in fan base and worldwide appeal. And nothing hits the spot quite like the word “franchise.”
The latest series offering to take the world by storm is the blush-worthy “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy from London-based, pseudonym-sporting E L James. Why the pseudonym, you ask? Well, if you were a successful TV producer and married mom of two, you might slap another name on this oh-so-steamy series, too.
James has taken on the genre of fan fiction to make her literary debut, publishing her first book online for free. The series is loosely based on Meyer’s “Twilight” characters but written for a far more X-rated audience. In other words, you and your teen daughter will not be wanting to read this one together. As series heroine Anastasia Steele would say, No, Sir.
When word spread that James’ stories were not to be missed, the author took the spicy piece down from her website, got herself a literary agent and started fielding calls from Hollywood for film rights. As of late March, James and her agent waded through a bidding war, including all major production companies, and settled on a deal with Universal Pictures and Focus Features for a reported $5 million.
In her first U.S. interview ever for Entertainment Weekly, James describes “Fifty Shades of Grey” as “a romantic fantasy story. That’s it,” she says. “It’s just a fun read.” And one that will have an awfully difficult time getting an R-rating when it hits theaters.