Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer have signed on John Adams helmer Tom Hooper to direct and Christopher Hampton to write East of Eden, an adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel, according to Variety.

First published in 1952, East of Eden is Steinbeck's retelling of the Cain and Abel story, set in California's Salinas Valley. The multigenerational story focuses on the Trask brothers and a woman who comes between the siblings.

Universal and Imagine first optioned Steinbeck's book in 2004, when it shot to the top of the bestseller lists right after Oprah Winfrey chose it as the first selection when she revived her book club. Ron Howard planned to direct it, and Paul Attanasio was hired to write it. Howard recently stepped out of directing the project.

With Hooper at the helm, the studio hopes to put East of Eden in production later this year.