UK-based Sprout Productions is in pre-production on period comedy Jane Austen Handheld with director Tristram Shapeero, who makes his feature film debut after working on TV's Green Wing, Peep Show and Brass Eye.

Carrie Fisher, Stephen Fry, Russell Brand and Lily Allen will star in the comedy spoof of Pride & Prejudice.

Ceci Dempsey's Scarlet Pictures is also producing and HanWay Films is on board for international sales.

The $5m (£2.5m) project will shoot in spring 2008 in and around London.

Sprout, the London-based film and TV production company founded by Gina Carter and Stephen Fry, also has appointed Jasper Van Hecke as head of development and production and Sarah Scougal as development executive.

Van Hecke worked at Corrino Films and MTV Networks and recently completed the UK Film Council/Skillset Producers Programme. Scougal previously worked at Working Title Films and New Line Cinema.

Sprout's slate also includes The Winged Boy with Gold Circle Films, Danny Boyle's thriller Ponte Tower, and historical comedy Messiah.

'Both Jasper and Sarah bring very healthy doses of creativity as well as expertise in production to our sprouting company,' said Fry.

Carter added that the hires 'will allow Sprout to increase its production output and emphasize on packaging and structuring international projects.'