*EUR has learned exclusively that two-time Tony® winner and recent Oscar® nominee Viola Davis (“Eat Pray Love,” “Doubt,” “Antwone Fisher”‘) is headlining the upcoming Dreamworks production of “The Help,” which is based on the best-selling debut novel by Kathryn Stockett.  

Davis plays the lead, Aibileen, in the film which explores what happens when the unspoken code of behavior between Southern black women and the white women they work for is fractured.  

Filming began last week in Greenwood, Mississippi, and will be released in theaters in 2011.   

Joining Davis are veteran actress and Oscar nominee Cicely Tyson as Constantine, Aunjanue Ellis (“Ray”) as Yule May, Octavia Spencer (“Dinner for Schmucks”) as Minnie, La Chanze (Tony winner for “The Color Purple”) as Rachel, Tarra Riggs (“Treme,” “Ballast”) as Gretchen and Nelsan Ellis (“True Blood”) as Henry.

Viola Davis

Published over a year ago, and propelled by passionate word of mouth, “The Help” spent the summer of 2009 circulating on “Summer Must Read” lists. It continues to sit on the New York Times’ best-sellers list, where it has remained for 60 straight weeks.  

Set against the backdrop of the uneasy 1960s, the film features Skeeter, who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives-and her whole Mississippi town-upside down when she embarks on a project to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of others.

Aibileen, Skeeter’s best friend’s housekeeper, is the first to open up-to the disbelief and consternation of Aibileen’s friends in the tight-knit black community.  Along the way, unlikely friendships are forged and a new sisterhood emerges as together they find their voices-but not before everyone in town has a thing or two to say themselves as they become caught up unwittingly, and unwillingly, in the changing times.