US-based Australian director Frank Lotito will direct The Olive Sisters, a romantic drama adapted from Australian author Amanda Hampson’s 2005 novel, which will star Leslie Mann and Anthony LaPaglia.

Lotito takes over from Fred Schepisi, who is still attached to the project as an executive producer.

A former stand-up comic, Lotito made his feature directing debut on Good Ol’ Boy, a US comedy which will have its world premiere later this month at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Based on a true story, set in 1979 and scripted by Anjul Nigam, Paul Quinn and Gregory Scott Houghton,  Good Ol’ Boy centres on a family from India that moves to the US with hopes of living the American Dream.

While their 10-year-old son Smith falls head-over-heels for the girl next door, his desire to become a “good old boy” propels him further away from his family’s ideals.

The cast includes Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl), Anjul Nigam (Bad Words), Brighton Sharbino (The Walking Dead), Hilarie Burton (One Tree Hill), Jake Busey (From Dusk Till Dawn), Tim Guinee (Iron Man), Alison Wright (The Americans), Poorna Jagannathan (Delhi Belly), Samrat Chakrabarti (Waiting City) and introduces Roni Akurati as Smith.

Nigam, who produced with Lotito, said, “We are in negotiations for domestic distributors and intend to finalize with one soon. We have not yet aligned with an Australian distributor but we are heading to Cannes with the film later this month.”

Lotito wrote and produced Big Mama's Boy before moving to the US where he co-starred with Justin Long, Gillian Jacobs, John Corbett and Jerry O'Connell in Richard Gray's thriller The Lookalike.

In The Olive Sisters, Manna will play Adrienne Bennett, a successful businesswoman whose life unravels when her business fails. She’s forced to move from her New York apartment to a small rural community in Australia, where she inherited a run-down olive grove from her grandparents.

After overcoming culture shock she discovers the family she barely knew and strikes up a friendship with the ruggedly handsome Joe (yet to be cast).

A parallel narrative follows Adrienne’s grandparents who worked hard to establish the olive grove to provide a legacy for their two daughters, Isabelle and Rosanna. They take local mining engineer Jack under their wing and he falls in love with and marries Isabelle.

The producer, Sorelle Productions’ Bonnie Burgess, approached Lotito after seeing Good Ol’ Boy. “Apart from the great cast attached I absolutely loved the script," Lotito tells IF. "It's my family’s story. Italian immigrants coming to Australia to told through the main protagonist who finds out about the family she didn't know she had. I like that the title role is female too.”

Jacki Weaver, Melissa George, Gia Carides and Josh Lucas were also cast and Lotito says most are still attached pending availability and shoot dates. The plan is to start shooting in Melbourne in spring.

The DoP is Michael Burgess, who was camera operator on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1.