Universal International Studios, Thousand Voices Snap Up Jessica Georges Debut Novel ‘Maame,’ Set Series

Universal International Studios and Jenna Bush Hager’s Thousand Voices are teaming with author Jessica George to develop a series adaptation of her keenly anticipated debut novel “Maame.”

The book rights to “Maame” were acquired in a competitive deal and auction by St Martin’s Press in the U.S. and Hodder & Stoughton in the U.K. German rights were pre-empted in a two-book deal by Sarah Leibl at btb, with translation rights handled by David Higham Associates.

Released on Jan. 31 in the U.S. and on Feb. 14 in the U.K. “Maame,” which has many meanings in Ghana’s Twi language, means woman in the context of the novel. It revolves around London-based Maddie, who is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. When her mother returns from a sojourn in Ghana, Maddie, a self-acknowledged late bloomer, leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living, but tragedy strikes.

Born and raised in London to Ghanaian parents, the novel’s themes include familial duty, racism, female pleasure, complexity of love, and the power of friendship and also explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures.

George will co-adapt her novel for television with writer Yemi Oyefuwa (“Everything I Know About Love,” “Dreaming Whilst Black”).

Co-host of NBC talk show “Today with Hoda & Jenna,” Jenna Bush Hager, has revealed “Maame” as her February pick for #ReadWithJenna, the program’s book club. Since its inception, 36 of Hager’s book club selections have become New York Times bestsellers.

Jessica George said: “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.”

Bush Hager added: “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.”

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.”

“Maame” is the second project between Universal International Studios and Hager in development under Hager’s first-look deal at Universal Studio Group. Under her deal, Hager and Thousand Voices president of film and television Ben Spector (“Grand Hotel”), 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.

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