Lionsgate Buys ‘Luckiest Girl Alive'; Reese Witherspoon & Bruna Papandrea To Produce
Lionsgate has snapped up the rights to Jessica Knoll’s first novel Luckiest Girl Alive, which Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea will produce under their Pacific Standard Films banner. The Simon & Schuster tome will be published May 12.
Luckiest Girl Alive centers on Ani FaNelli, a 28-year-old New Yorker who appears to have it all: a sought-after position at a women’s magazine, a killer wardrobe and a dream wedding with her handsome fiancé on the horizon. But behind Ani’s veneer of perfection lies a dark trauma from her past, which resurfaces to unravel her meticulously crafted life.
Knoll has been a senior editor at Cosmopolitan and articles editor at Self. Simon & Schuster’s Sarah Knight, who acquired and edited Luckiest Girl Alive, also acquired Gillian Flynn’s global best-seller Gone Girl and edited her best-seller Dark Places while at Random House. Papandrea served as EP and Witherspoon produced Gone Girl, which was a huge fall hit for 20th Century Fox and became director David Fincher’s highest-grossing film with $167.8M at the domestic box office and $368M worldwide. Pacific Standard Films also was behind the feature adaptation of the best-selling memoir Wild, which earned $52.4M at the global B.O. to date and earned Witherspoon a Best Actress Oscar nomination for the role of fearless hiker Cheryl Strayed and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nom for Laura Dern, who played Cheryl’s mother.
“This is one of those rare books that come along every so often that you simply cannot put down,” Lionsgate Motion Picture Group President Erik Feig said in a statement about Luckiest Girl Alive.
Luckiest Girl Alive is the kind of book that grabs you and doesn’t let go,” added Witherspoon. “The hero of the book is a wily, intelligent, complex narrator. This character and the thrilling narrative that she drives are exactly the kind of story our company, Pacific Standard Films, wants to produce.”
VP Production Jeyun Choi Munford and Creative Exec Nirokhi Raychaudhuri is overseeing the project on behalf of Lionsgate. The deal was negotiated by CAA on behalf of Knoll, the novel and the producers. Paradigm reps Knoll.
Last month, Fox 2000 and Pacific Standard won the book rights auction to Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s book Ashley’s War: The Untold Story Of A Team of Women Soldiers On The Special Ops Battlefield. It follows the creation of a 2010 pilot program by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command that allowed elite female soldiers on the battlefield with Green Berets and Army Rangers in Afghanistan. The unit, CST-2, included 1st Lieutenant Ashley White, who would become the first CST member killed in action.
Update: Fox 2000 has indeed officially closed its deal for the Gayle Tzemach Lemmon book Ashley’s War. The deal was made by UTA, on behalf of lit agent Elyse Cheney. Another opportunity for Reese Witherspoon to craft a film with a heroine that rarely crosses your desk if you sit back and wait for these roles to be dropped in your lap. The role of White would likely be played by a younger actress–she died at 24–but Witherspoon barely flinched when David Fincher didn’t see her for the lead in Gone Girl. They have plenty of time to figure this stuff out.
Original story: Fox 2000 and Pacific Standard’s Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea and Natalie Krinsky ended last night very close to winning a book rights auction to Ashley’s War: The Untold Story Of A Team of Women Soldiers On The Special Ops Battlefield, a Gayle Tzemach Lemmon book that Harper will publish late next month. It’s the story of the creation by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command of a pilot program that allowed elite women soldiers on the battlefield with Green Berets and Army Rangers in Afghanistan in 2010. The unit, CST-2, brought together a hand-picked group of women from the Army, and that included 1st Lieutenant Ashley White, who would become the first CST member killed in action.
In the wake of American Sniper‘s outsized grosses, this becomes the second female-driven war story in two weeks to make a splashy sale: Warner Bros last week bought the memoir by Pulitzer Prize-winning war photographer Lynsey Addario for Steven Spielberg to direct and Jennifer Lawrence to star, in heavy bidding. Ashley’s War didn’t quite reach that feverish level, but I’m told that Sony and Universal were also in the bidding here. Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler guided this one and UTA brokered the deal. Gabler and her exec Marisa Paiva will oversee the project for the studio.
Reese attended 87th Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon earlier this week. We have added the first batch with HQ photos in our gallery:
Reese made a surprise appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon earlier this week. We have added the official stills in our gallery and the segment can be found below.
Jimmy and Ellen team up against Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell in the game Password.
Reese attended the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards last week. We have added the first batch with HQ photos in our gallery:
Reese attended the 26th Annual Producers Guild Of America Awards last week. We have added the first batch with HQ photos in our gallery:
Reese attended the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards earlier this month. We have added the first batch with HQ photos in our gallery:
• Critics’ Choice Movie Awards x317
Reese attended the 2015 Golden Globe Awards earlier hits month. We have added the first batch with HQ photos in our gallery:
• The Golden Globe Awards x119
Congratulations to Reese for receiving an Oscar nomination for her performance in Wild!! Her co-star Laura Dern also earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the film. One of Reese’s fellow Best Actress nominees is Rosamund Pike, for her performance in Gone Girl which Reese produced.
This is Reese’s 2nd Oscar nomination, following her win for Walk The Line in 2006.
The Oscars will take place on February 22nd and air live on ABC.
Actress In A Leading Role
Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”
Reese attended the 4th Annual Sean Penn & Friends “Help Haiti Home” Gala Benefit earlier this week. We have added the HQ photos in our gallery:
Reese attended the W Magazine Celebrates The ‘Best Performances’ Portfolio event earlier this week in Los Angeles. The HQ photos have been added to our gallery:
Way back in 2009 there were rumours that Reese would be reuniting with her Election director Alexander Payne on a new project entitled Downsizing (original stories here and here). These reports have popped up again, with Matt Damon now attached to co-star:
Reese Witherspoon ‘Downsizing’ With Matt Damon, Alexander Payne
Wild star Reese Witherspoon will star with Matt Damon in Downsizing, the next film from Alexander Payne. The pic was scripted by Payne with Jim Taylor, with whom Payne shared the Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Sideways. They partner in Ad Hominem Enterprises, and their scripting collaborations also include About Schmidt. The film is a social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself. Witherspoon’s star making role as she transitioned from child actress to adulthood came in the Payne-directed satire Election.
The timing is the tricky thing here for Witherspoon, who’s squarely in the Oscar mix for her performance as star and producer of Wild. Damon first will do another installment of the Bourne franchise for Universal, and then Downsizing will happen. Witherspoon is repped by CAA and LBI.