Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group and Jenna Bush Hager’s Thousand Voices are teaming with author Jessica George to develop a series adaptation of her upcoming debut novel Maame.
he novel centers on Maddie, whose life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting. When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils—and rewards—of putting her heart on the line.
Co-host of “TODAY with Hoda & Jenna,” Jenna Bush Hager today announced Maame as her February pick for #ReadWithJenna, TODAY’s critically acclaimed book club, which Bush Hager founded in March 2019. Since its inception, 36 of Hager’s book club selections have become New York Times bestsellers.
George will co-adapt her novel for television with writer Yemi Oyefuwa. Oyefuwa’s credits includ series Everything I Know About Love and Dreaming Whilst Black. In 2022, her original screenplay Six Foot Something was selected by Sky as part of its original comedy shorts at Edinburgh TV Festival. It will air on Sky Arts and YouTube this year.
Jessica George says: “I’m delighted that all parties involved have fallen in love with Maddie as much as I did when I wrote the book. I’m incredibly excited to be working alongside Jenna, Ben, Yemi and Universal International Studios to bring Maame to screen.”
Jenna Bush Hager adds: “When I first read Maame, Jessica’s voice leapt off the page. Maddie is a character so singular and unique, I knew Thousand Voices had to join forces with her and Universal International Studios to bring it to screen. Ben Spector and I are so grateful she has trusted us to join her on this journey.”
Beatrice Springborn, President of Universal International Studios, said: “With Jenna’s eye for incredible stories and Jessica’s moving debut novel, we have all the elements for a wonderful series. We fell in love with Maddie and loved her funny and complicated lens on relationships, life and family. She is a one-of-a-kind literary character you dream of coming to life off the page. “
Maame marks the second project between Universal International Studios (UIS) and Hager in development under Hager’s first-look deal at Universal Studio Group. Under her deal, Hager and Ben Spector (“Grand Hotel,” “La Guerra Civil”)—who joined Hager’s company as President of Film and Television—will develop and produce projects with Universal International Studios, UCP, Universal Television and Universal Television Alternative Studio for multiple platforms. They are also producing The Feather Thief at Universal International Studios and have multiple projects at UCP including The Many Daughters of Afong Moy and The Cloisters. Hager and her company are represented by UTA.
Universal International Studios’ in-house production labels include Carnival Films, Monkey, Matchbox Pictures, Working Title Television and Heyday Television. The studio also backs Tony Ayres Productions. Led by President Beatrice Springborn, UIS’ global scripted unit develops and produces original series such “Dodger,” “Transplant” and “Everyone Else Burns.” The studio also houses NBCUniversal Formats, bringing a diverse slate of scripted and unscripted formats to the global market including “The Real Housewives,” “Top Chef,” “That’s My Jam” and “Superstore.”
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