Dakota Fanning and Alicia Keys are in final negotiations to join the cast of The Secret Life of Bees, a female-oriented coming-of-age tale based on the Sue Monk Kidd best-seller.
Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Sophie Okonedo are already on board the Fox Searchlight project, which is scheduled to go into production next month in North Carolina. The studio is planning on a release later in 2008.
Bees, a drama set in the Southern US in the 1960s, centers on teenager Lily Owens (Fanning) and her friend Rosaleen (Hudson) who flee their hometown to escape their harsh upbringing and seek to uncover the mysteries of Lily's late mother. Along the way, they encounter three beekeeping sisters (Latifah, Okonedo, Keys) who take the pair in to their South Carolina home.
Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) will direct Bees from her own adaptation, which was completed before the writers strike began last month.
Monk Kidd's novel was a sensation when it was released five years ago, spending more than two years on the New York Times best-seller list.
Fanning was in theaters a year ago with Charlotte's Web. She is set to star opposite Hudson, an Oscar winner for Dreamgirls, in the drama Winged Creatures. Keys made her feature debut earlier this year as a lesbian hitwoman in the crime drama Smokin' Aces. Okonedo starred in Hotel Rwanda. Queen Latifah is in theaters with The Perfect Holiday.