TV News Roundup: Ellen Pompeo, Sophie Wilde, and Sheila Heti All Have Projects in the Works

Following the news that Ellen Pompeo is to reduce her on-screen “Grey’s Anatomy” presence, as revealed exclusively by Deadline, the TV veteran has signed on to new limited series, “Untitled Orphan Project,” which she helped steer toward getting greenlit at Hulu.

According to Deadline, the series is based on the shocking, stranger-than-fiction real story of Ukrainian-born Natalia Grace, who has a rare form of dwarfism, and her U.S. adoptive parents, Kristine Barnett and her now ex-husband Michael Barnett. The Barnetts made national headlines in 2019 when charged with neglect for allegedly abandoning Natalia at age 9 in 2013 — they in turn alleged that she is in fact a mentally disturbed adult woman who threatened their lives.

As the source summarizes, “As they begin to raise her alongside their three biological children, they slowly start to believe she may not be who she says she is. As they question her story, they’re confronted with hard questions of their own about the lengths they’re willing to go to defend themselves, falling into a battle that’s fought in the tabloids, the courtroom, and ultimately their marriage.”

Katie Robbins, who served as a writer on “The Affair” and “The Last Tycoon” has created and written the limited series, while Erin Levy (“Mad Men,” “Mindhunter”) will serve as showrunner. Pompeo will play the mother, and serve as an exec producer.

Hulu has also optioned Sheila Heti’s forthcoming book “Alphabetical Diaries,” with the intention of developing the book as a potential drama series with producers Katie McNeill and Jamie Patricof of Hunting Lane (“Blue Valentine,” “The Zookeeper’s Wife”). The Hollywood Reporter broke the news.

For the book, Heti collated a decade’s worth of diary entries, rearranging the “thousands of sentences” into alphabetical order — it’s due to be published in 2023. The author has written 10 books previously, including “How Should a Person Be?,” “Motherhood,” and her latest novel, “Pure Colour,” which was published earlier this summer.

Elsewhere, Deadline reported that Netflix’s “The F**k it Bucket,” created by newcomer Ripley Parker, has found its lead, Australian actress Sophie Wilde (“You Don’t Know Me,” “Eden”). She will portray Mia Polanco, a 17-year-old Londoner who has been released from the hospital after a lengthy battle with anorexia nervosa. As the source details, “[Mia] is thrust back into the chaotic world of sixth form [for students aged 16-18 in the U.K.], only to find that her friends have been spending her recovery time experiencing things she has never known. Confronted with the realization that her childhood is racing by without her, Mia resolves that despite it all, she is not ready to grow up.”

“Boiling Point” breakout Lauryn Ajufo will portray Becca, one of Mia’s best friends, while Vivienne Acheampong (“The Sandman”) and Niamh McCormack (“The Witcher”) round out the cast as mom Viv and school friend Alison, respectively.

Alyssa McClelland (“Home and Away”), Dionne Edwards (“Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle”), and Laura Steinel (“Family”) are among the directors, while Huberta von Liel (“Strike Back,” “Slaughterhouse Rulez”) is signed on to produce the series.


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