Bridget Jones Returning in New Book, Film and Maybe Musical

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Author Helen Fielding is making progress on a third Bridget Jones book— even as a film production company is gearing up for a third movie.

Fielding, who recently moved back to her native London after a few years in Los Angeles, says her new book will delve into Bridget's (unsuccessful, of course) attempts to deal with today's challenges, such as social media, as well as the personal foibles that likely haven't changed over the 13 years since the last Bridget novel.

How can there be a movie if the book isn't done yet? Working Title Films, which made the first two Bridget Jones movies, commissioned a script for a movie tentatively titled "Bridget Jones's Baby." But it won't be based on the book Fielding is writing.

Fielding says she has been helping write the movie script based on columns she wrote in 2005 and 2006 for the Independent newspaper in London. From the sound of things, the third movie will take place sometime between the second and third novels.

We last saw Renee Zellweger as Bridget in 2004's "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," the sequel to "Bridget Jones's Diary."

Zellweger is slated to return for this film, along with her costars from the first two, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Given that Grant and Firth have played competing love interests in both the existing Bridget movies, we can assume that both will still be in the picture vying for her attention.

Given the new film's title, it appears that she may be adding a family member to the mix. In Fielding's newspaper columns, Bridget found herself pregnant not by Mark Darcy, her steadfast but inscrutable hero, but by the unreliable cad Daniel Cleaver.

The original book, published in 1996, was at the forefront of a then-emerging genre, "chick lit," and came out just as an increasing number of twenty- and thirty-somethings were deciding to live alone and put off marriage. Bridget was the quintessential "Singleton," watching "Smug Marrieds" around her progress in life and careers while she muddled endearingly through a series of personal and professional mishaps.

Fielding has said that the original book was based on her own life and her feelings about a culture obsessed with self-assessment and improvement. In its title diary entries, Bridget records her weight and how much alcohol she has consumed, using those numbers as something of a barometer of how well or poorly things are going in her life.

In the new book, set in present times, she's still struggling to find her way in the world as a 40-something woman. And yes, Fielding says, she will still be on a diet.

"She's trying a bit harder, and is a bit more successful, but she's never really going to change," Fielding said recently on the BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour program.

The character is a gift that keeps on giving for Fielding, who first conceived of Bridget in the mid 1990s. Along with the new book and movie, she's helping create a new Bridget Jones musical. That project, which has been in development since 2009, is still a long way from hitting the stage.

by Christy Karras

Top: Hugh Grant, Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth, here in a publicity photo from 2004's "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," will be starring in a new Bridget Jones movie. Author Helen Fielding is also writing a third book about the character. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

Right: "Bridget Jones" author Helen Fielding, who moved back to London after years in the U.S., is writing a new book about the character. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)