After 20 years as a movie producer, Irwin Winkler, 57, is making his directorial debut. According to UA, who will distribute, the project is "Dessa Rose," based on last year's first novel by Sherley Anne Williams about interracial sisterhood, jealousy and conflict during the Civil War. The principal characters: a female plantation owner who helps runaway slaves and a pregnant slave accused of leading a revolt.
Winkler, whose producing credits range from the "Rocky" films (with Robert Chartoff) to last year's " 'Round Midnight," will begin work on the film when he returns later this month from France, where he's overseeing the tentatively titled "Sundown," Costa-Gavras' film with Tom Berenger and Debra Winger.
Williams has finished two drafts as adaptor, but no other details yet.