Marking her first turn directing a movie, Meg Ryan is teaming with Tom Hanks to make Ithaca, the film adaptation of William Saroyan's classic 1943 novel The Human Comedy. In addition to directing, she'll star opposite Sam Shepard, Melanie Griffith and Jack Quaid.
Hanks and his partner at Playtone, Gary Goetzman, are executive producing the Word War II coming-of-age saga about life on the home front. Brian O'Shea's The Exchange has acquired worldwide rights to the project and will shop Ithaca to foreign buyers at Berlin's upcoming European Film Market.
Ryan will direct Ithaca from an adapted script by Erik Jendresen, who worked with Hanks on the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Janet Brenner and Laura Ivey are producing.
Set in a small town in California's San Joaquin Valley in 1942, Ithaca recounts the story of 14-year-old Homer Macauley, a telegraph bike messenger. His older brother has gone to fight in World War II, leaving him to care for his widowed mother, his older sister and his four-year-old brother, Ulysses. The effects of the war are revealed as Homer delivers messages of love, friendship, pain and death, including one message that alters his own life forever.
Ryan and Shepard are represented by ICM Partners. Griffith is represented by WME; Quaid, UTA.