Best-selling author Dorothea Benton Frank's novel "The Christmas Pearl" will be a major motion picture filmed partly in Charleston, the author said Thursday.
"I would imagine it's got to be good for the city of Charleston. The book is a love story about Charleston," she said.
Exterior shots will be filmed in the Holy City. Most of the production will happen at an old house in New York, she said.
The movie will be shot in 22 days starting in June. It will be in theaters either this holiday season or the next, said Frank, who is a Sullivan's Island native.
Longtime friend Whoopi Goldberg is executive producer and will star in the movie. Casting is not complete. Kathy Bates, Tom Hanks and Olympia Dukakis are possibilities, she said.
"It depends on who's free," she said.
Frank said she wrote "The Christmas Pearl," published in 2007, with Goldberg in mind.
"I said, 'Whoopi Goldberg, I don't know where you are but this is for you,' " she said.
Frank said the movie deal has been three years in the making. It is her first, and something she has wanted for a long time.
Her 2012 novel "Porch Lights," which is set on Sullivan's Island, is being pitched for a TV series, she said.
"That would have a big impact on the economy," she said.
Frank said she is finishing a new book, "The Hurricane Sisters," for release in June.
She has penned numerous top-sellers set in the Lowcountry, including "Sullivan's Island," "Isle of Palms," "Shem Creek," "Pawleys Island" and "Lowcountry Summer."
Marion Edmonds, spokesman for the state Film Commission, said he is reaching out to "The Christmas Pearl" producers to learn more about their plans. So far they haven't applied for state financial incentives for moviemakers, he said.
"We haven't received any information about where they plan to shoot, for how long and how much they intend to spend," Edmonds said.
In a statement, the producers said "The Christmas Pearl" is based around a 93-year-old matriarch, Theodora, and her struggles with her South Carolina family she describes as "truculent knuckleheads."
Strain and fighting among family members sets up a tension-filled Christmas gathering at Theodora's stately home, and the matriarch aches for the extravagant, homey holidays of her childhood, said Julius R. Nasso Productions.
"When Theodora's usual maid is called away, a Christmas miracle presents itself to the family when Pearl, played by Goldberg, comes back to the family as a ghost, ready to bring order back to the house," the production company said in a statement released Thursday.
Felix Alcala will direct the movie. He is known for work such as "Criminal Minds," "The Good Wife," "Suits," "Covert Affairs" and "The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three."
Anne Rapp wrote the screenplay. Her credits include "This is Spinal Tap," "He's Just Not That Into You" and "The Green Hornet."
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