Wally Lamb Digital Book ‘I’ll Take You There’ to Feature Elizabeth Banks Short Film (EXCLUSIVE)

Todd Spangler
Variety

Elizabeth Banks will star in and executive produce a short film for “I’ll Take You There,” the new Hollywood-themed novel from bestselling author Wally Lamb, to be released this month first as a digtal app.

The novel will be published by startup Metabook exclusively for iPad and iPhone on Nov. 20, available as its own app for $14.99 in the Apple App Store. “I’ll Take You There” is billed as a generations-spanning story of one man’s life and the women who shaped it, told against a backdrop of Hollywood iconography and the enduring magic of movies.

Banks stars in and is executive producing the short film, “Yours Sincerely, Lois Weber,” about the trailblazing silent-film director who is a pivotal character in the novel. The six-minute film’s director, Svetlana Cvetko, is an acclaimed DP who lensed 2011 Oscar winner “Inside Job” and 2014 Academy Award nominee “Facing Fear.”

“I’m grateful to Wally Lamb for educating us about Lois Weber, on whose shoulders so many current filmmakers stand, including myself,” Banks said in a statement. “As such, a film is the perfect additional tribute.”

Banks directed “Pitch Perfect 2,” which was 2015’s highest-grossing movie by a female director and the biggest music comedy film to date. “Her presence in this film about Lois Weber is a powerful representation of the future of Hollywood as well as a nod to its past,” said Metabook creator Benjamin Alfonsi, who also was executive producer of the short film.

Metabook’s “I’ll Take You There” digital-book app includes a slew of extras in addition to the novel itself.

Kathleen Turner portrays Weber in an audio dramatization of the book, and readers will have the option to listen to the track as they read. The cast also includes Laura Benanti, Dana Delany and Jeremy Sisto.

In addition, the Metabook includes an eight-song sountrack, for which singer-songwriter Janis Ian recorded an acoustic version of her Grammy-winning classic “At Seventeen.” Other songs include “I’ll Take You There,” performed by Britain’s Croydon SDA Gospel Choir, and “Change” by Hélène Muddiman.

Other extras include a documentary film narrated by Lamb, a video introduction, 360-degree photo galleries, social-media sharing features, and discussions questions prepped by Lamb.

“I’ll Take You There” will also be available in print: Metabook has a deal with HarperCollins, which will release the novel in hardcover, e-book, audiobook and large-print editions on its Harper imprint on Nov. 22, with an announced first printing of 250,000 copies.

But for Metabook’s fully-loaded multimedia apps, the company has gone all-in with Apple. “There was never any question that Metabook would be an iOS-exclusive offering,” Alfonsi said. “A big part of what we’re offering with Metabook is a visually stunning content immersion experience and a seamless user experience; and for me, Apple is unmatched at allowing for both.”

Lamb is the author of five bestselling novels: “She’s Come Undone” (an Oprah Winfrey book club selection), “I Know This Much is True,” “The Hour I First Believed,” “Wishin’ and Hopin’” and “We Are Water.” He also edited “Couldn’t Keep It to Myself” and “I’ll Fly Away,” two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Connecticut.

New York-based Metabook last year released a digital book app for “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt. The company now will focus on its own original titles, beginning with “I’ll Take You There,” which it acquired the rights to in 2013.

Pictured above: Svetlana Cvetko (l.) and Elizabeth Banks

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