We must be getting slow, since we completely missed this item in last week's Variety. The next project for Sam Mendes, after his upcoming film, Revolutionary Road, will be helming a big-screen adaptation of Middlemarch, George Eliot's beloved 1871 classic. Its never been done in high-style before, and there's a reason --- it could only be an epic undertaking, with a huge budget. The copy on my shelf runs 801 pages, and there are more characters that even an English lit major can keep straight. Variety reports that Mendes' Neal Sreet Productions, which has renewed a first-look deal with Dreamworks, "is working with Andrew Davis, the doyen of Brit lit, on the first ever bigscreen version of George Eliot's monumental 19th century novel Middlemarch, for Mendes to direct in 2008." There's only one other quote in the piece, which is strangely non-specific, but here it is: "Sam's first film was for an American studio, so he started off in a slightly different place than other British directors," Mendes producing partner Pippa Harris said to the trade. "But he's as determined to tell stories about England as he is about America."

I've been a big supporter of Mendes, finding much to admire about American Beauty and Road to Perdition, although I thought Jarhead was a step in the wrong direction for him. I can't think of anyone better suited to take on the job of adapting such an untouchable classic for the big screen. The next obvious question -- who will Mendes get to step into the shoes of the heroine, Dorothea Brooke? Those are tough shoes to fill. Mendes will have to search far and wide to find a British actress who can pull off the saintly and chaste demeanor of this classic character. It will probably have to be someone who has some Brit lit adaptations to her credit and tends to enjoy serious dramatic roles that lend themselves to sure-fire Oscar nominations. Here's hoping that Mendes' long and poignant search for just the right actress goes well ...

P.S. Yes, I'm aware that Dorothea is a nineteen-year-old; I'm mostly joking, but stranger casting decisions have been made.