Belletrist may have started as a cross-country book club, but it has recently birthed its own production company. According to Variety, founders Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss have just signed a first-look TV deal with premium streaming service Hulu. Their first project will be a TV adaptation of Carola Lovering’s 2018 romantic mystery novel Tell Me Lies.
Lovering’s debut novel tells a coming-of-age story set on a California college campus that alternates between the voices of its two main characters, Lucy and Stephen. Publishers Weekly hailed it as a “potent novel [with]… strong characters.”
Tell Me Lies is slated to be the inaugural program from Belletrist TV, who plan to build their brand on literary adaptations. In a speech Emma Roberts gave during the 2020 Girls Write Now Graduation Gala, she stated that the ultimate mission of the online Belletrist book club is to “give younger women a place to discover and discuss books.” Steadfast commitment to that goal has netted Belletrist over two hundred thousand Instagram followers, who discuss monthly reading selections and bond over their favorite independent bookstores. Co-founder Karah Preiss introduced a new feature of the Instagram account back in March called the “Virtual Book Tour,” a live show where she interviews authors about their forthcoming or recently released work. Preiss will serve as the executive producer for Tell Me Lies, and for all forthcoming Belletrist TV shows.
Hulu’s deal with Belletrist TV continues the streamer’s audience growth strategy of celebrity book club fanbase integration that began last year with their adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere, starring and co-produced by Reese Witherspoon. Celeste Ng’s novel on which the show is based was the September 2017 pick for Reese’s Book Club.
Production duties for Tell Me Lies will be shared between Rebelle Media and Refinery29. Last year the two companies collaborated on the short film “Mr. Malcolm’s List,” adapted from Suzanne Allain’s regency romance novel of the same name. The short premiered as part of Refinery29’s Shatterbox series, which showcases short-form work by female directors.
The Tell Me Lies pilot script has an author in Meaghan Oppenheimer, creator of the Facebook Watch series Queen America. Carola Lovering herself will occupy a consulting producer role, Deadline reports.
While there is nothing easy about any page-to-screen adaptation, it may comfort bookworms to know that the upcoming Tell Me Lies series will be handled by people who have shown time and time again how passionate they are about the realm of the written word.