February 1, 2019 • Category: Career, Hello Sunshine, Producing •
Comments Off on Universal Joins Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele in Committing to Hiring Female Directors
Universal Joins Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele in Committing to Hiring Female Directors
Universal Pictures’ Peter Cramer, Focus Features’ Peter Kujawski and DreamWorks Animation’s Margie Cohn have committed to hiring at least one female director in the next 18 months as part of the 4% Challenge.
The development was announced Tuesday and comes in the wake of Time’s Up and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative launching the challenge on Jan. 25 at the Sundance Film Festival. The organization said on Monday that more than 50 high-profile Hollywood producers — including Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, and Jordan Peele — have committed to the 4% Challenge.
The initiative is part of the Timesupx2 campaign to double the number of women in leadership positions.
The name is derived from women having directed only 4% of the country’s top grossing movies over the past decade. Nina Jacobson, Paul Feig, Amy Schumer, Angela Robinson, and Franklin Leonard committed to the promise during a panel discussion on Friday, and Tessa Thompson inaugurated the challenge during a keynote address. Regina King was the first to pledge to taking the 4% Challenge during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, vowing to employ at least 50% women on everything she produces.
Lena Waithe, Rashida Jones, Olivia Wilde, Armie Hammer, Kumail Nanjiani, Josh Gad, Amy Pascal, Bryce Dallas Howard, Brie Larson, Eva Longoria, Rachel Brosnahan, Constance Wu, Janet Mock, Brad Simpson and Kerry Washington are among the notable producers on board.
The Sundance Film Festival recently reported that 31% of feature-length submissions this year had at least one woman director, as did 35% of episodic and shorts content. Of feature films and episodic content accepted in 2019, 41% had a woman director while 52% of shorts did.
Reese graces the cover of the new February issue of US Vogue! The magazine features a story on her as the “moral compass of Hollywood” (which is a great title for her!), and features an extensive new interview and a new photoshoot – including a photo with Betty and Ava. It’s a fantastic article exploring how Reese’s career has developed, and focuses mostly on her recent move into production and business; there are also some great quotes from Cheryl Strayed, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep. I also liked reading about where her Oscar is, and that she has hardbound copies of scripts from her movies!
Read the full article below, and find high quality photos from the cover and the shoot in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you soon. Make sure you pick up a copy when you can!
Reese Witherspoon: Activist, Advocate, Hollywood’s Moral Compass
The first time Reese Witherspoon found herself suspended from school was in third grade, when she was caught running a custom-barrette business from her desk. (She painted store-bought barrettes and sold them at a profit; when her paint pens leaked onto her desk, she was apprehended.) Another time was during her junior year, at a private girls’ high school in Nashville, when she complained to her English teacher that the work they were doing wasn’t challenging enough. Witherspoon was in many ways a model student—good grades, popular, a soccer player and cheerleader—but she also had a reputation for telling teachers what they were doing was wrong.
“I always tended to be outspoken with my opinions,” she says. “Whether they were appropriate or not.”
More than two decades later, Witherspoon is still fighting the status quo. Insofar as Hollywood is an extreme version of high school, a fishbowl of fragile egos, insecurity, and often-misdirected sexual energy, she has taken it upon herself to be a champion of the overlooked and the underestimated. She may still bear the imprint of the perky-blonde roles that kept her in American-sweetheart mode for the better part of two decades, but something’s changed beneath the surface. Witherspoon has become a formidable businesswoman, launching a company that has a hand in just about every imaginable sector of contemporary media, and she’s become a formidable activist as well, fighting for greater representation in Hollywood of people of color, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and—most of all—women.
“The idea is to put women at the center of the story,” Witherspoon says, sitting barefoot and in jeans in the kitchen of her sunny, sprawling Los Angeles home as her three dogs—a German shepherd named Nash (short for Nashville), a French bulldog named Pepper, and a lab named Hank—amble and snort among the rooms. “I was sick of making movies where I was the only female lead on the set. I was sick of seeing scripts where there was one female role, badly written, and yet every actress in town wanted the part because there was nothing else.”
There is perhaps no greater example in the history of television of putting women at the center than Big Little Lies, the HBO sensation that picked up eight Emmys in 2017. Witherspoon executive-produced the series with Nicole Kidman, with whom she also stars alongside Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley. In the second season, which airs in late spring, Meryl Streep will bring the show’s number of female leads to six.
December 20, 2018 • Category: Hello Sunshine, Producing •
Comments Off on MGM Partners With Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine On ‘Eleanor Oliphant’; Liz Hannah Scripting
MGM Partners With Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine On ‘Eleanor Oliphant’; Liz Hannah Scripting
MGM has teamed with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine on the film adaptation of the Gail Honeyman bestselling novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Set to write the script is Liz Hannah, who wrote the Steven Spielberg-directed The Post. It is a potential star vehicle for Witherspoon. She is starring for MGM in Legally Blonde 3 and the studio has made it a priority to find more film vehicles for her to star in and produce.
Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Levy Neustadter will produce for Hello Sunshine.
Hello Sunshine optioned the book May, 2017. Eleanor Oliphant is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine who goes from living a lonely life to realizing the only way to survive is to open your heart. The novel was published by the Penguin Random House imprint Pamela Dorman Books. Witherspoon optioned the Glasgow-based novelist’s book very early and it went on the sell over 1 million copies in the U.S. and Canada with a long run on the bestseller lists.
Eleanor Oliphant author Honeyman is repped by The Artists Partnership, Emily Hayward Whitlock and Madeleine Milburn Ltd.
Said Witherspoon: “Gail has created an incredibly smart, funny, and eccentric character who beautifully demonstrates the ways vulnerability and human connection can so deeply enrich your life. Eleanor’s journey is utterly extraordinary. To know her is to love her, and I’m so excited to team up with MGM and Liz Hannah to bring this unbelievably gorgeous character to life on-screen.”
Said MGM President of Motion Picture Group Jonathan Glickman: “For over 17 years, Reese has been an integral part of the fabric of MGM both in front and behind the camera, and we couldn’t be happier to continue this partnership with her Hello Sunshine team on this wonderful and beloved novel.”
Cassidy Lange will oversee on behalf of MGM.
Honeyman is repped by The Artists Partnership, Emily Hayward Whitlock and Madeleine Milburn; Hello Sunshine is represented by CAA and Hansen, Jacobson; Hannah is repped by UTA, Echo Lake Entertainment and Jackoway Tyerman.
Reese Witherspoon to Produce ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Adaptation for Fox 2000
Fox 2000 has acquired the best-selling novel “Where the Crawdads Sing” and has tapped Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine to produce a feature film adaptation.
Witherspoon’s involvement is not a great surprise. The Oscar winner has been a champion of the book, selecting it for inclusion in her Reese’s Book Club. “Where the Crawdads Sing,” Delia Owens’ debut novel, has been on the best-seller list for the past 12 weeks. Fox 2000 is also a natural home. Under the leadership of Elizabeth Gabler, the label has developed a knack for turning literary properties into movies, developing the likes of “The Fault in Our Stars” and “The Devil Wears Prada” into hit movies.
“With a jaw-dropping mystery, stunning Southern setting, and endlessly fascinating female heroine at its center, I loved this book the moment I read it and am so excited to join forces with Elizabeth and her team to bring Delia’s truly moving page-turner to the screen,” Witherspoon said in a statement.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” is set in a small town in the South and focuses on a young woman named Kya who raises herself in the marshes after she is abandoned by her family. After her former boyfriend is found dead, Kya becomes the prime suspect in his murder. The book has been described as a mixture of a crime thriller and a coming-of-age tale. Witherspoon and her partner Lauren Levy Neustadter will produce the pic for Hello Sunshine.
The storyline is in keeping with Hello Sunshine’s mandate. Witherspoon founded the company in 2016 with the goal of promoting female-driven projects. That fits in with “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which is written be a female writer and has a female protagonist. Other Hello Sunshine projects include a Hulu adaptation of Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller “Little Fires Everywhere” that will feature Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, and “Are You Sleeping,” an adaptation of Kathleen Barber’s novel of the same name that will be executive produced by and star Octavia Spencer.
“I knew and loved Delia’s writing so when I saw that Reese’s Book Club was recommending her new book, I started reading it right away. It is absolutely exquisite, so I immediately reached out to Reese and Lauren and said I wanted to bring it to life on film alongside them,” Gabler said in a statement. “We at Fox 2000 have an incredible synergy with Reese, Lauren, and their team at Hello Sunshine, and I am elated that we can once again be partners in the creation of yet another extraordinary film from an outstanding literary property.”
Gabler and Erin Siminoff will oversee production for Fox 2000.
Owens is new to fiction writing, but she has literary experience, having co-authored three acclaimed non-fiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist. They include “Cry of the Kalahari,” “The Eye of the Elephant,” and “Secrets of the Savanna.”
Owens is represented by CAA and Russell Galen of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. Hello Sunshine is represented by CAA and Hansen, Jacobson. G.P. Putnam’s Sons published “Where the Crawdads Sing” in August.
The December/January edition of Fast Company magazine has a snippet on Reese – it’s a short but good read. Find a scan of it in our Gallery.
A day in the life of Reese Witherspoon How Hello Sunshine founder Reese Witherspoon capitalizes on her strengths to get things done.
I have a 6-year-old who likes to have milk at 6 o’clock every morning, so from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., he drinks milk, and my husband [CAA agent Jim Toth] and I drink coffee. We talk and catch up on the news—Jim likes to hear it, I like to read it. After that, I work out for an hour, then go to work.
Assuming I’m not on a set somewhere acting, or traveling for, say, a shoot for [her clothing company] Draper James or Elizabeth Arden [she’s a brand collaborator], I’ll go to the Hello Sunshine office or a meeting related to something we’re developing. I quit driving a year ago. My husband said, “Babe, you’re a terrible driver. Get someone to do that for you.” And it’s great because that’s the time I now spend catching up on phone calls or texts. I’ve deliberately stripped away a lot of the layers of people who silo you off as an actor. That changed when I started producing: I’m putting my money into this; this is my sweat equity, all the equity I have. If you have a problem, call me directly.
It occurs to me at about 6 o’clock that I should probably do something fun at 7:30. I have two girlfriends who are good at that, and thank God, because [otherwise] I’d have no life. I can’t get groups of people on vacation either. That’s not my thing. I’m okay with that.
I get home around 5:30 or 6 for family dinner—that’s important to me. I hear what the kids [she also has a 19-year-old daughter, Ava, and a 15-year-old son, Deacon, from her first marriage, to Ryan Phillippe] are doing and how they’re feeling. I put my 6-year-old to bed at 8, and then I read for two hours. Or I’ll watch a TV show. I love The Crown, Queer Eye, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Oh, and the latest Chris Rock special on Netflix. He does this great bit about being brutally honest with your children. I feel like I’m constantly counteracting pressure from the parents who want to make the lives of their kids golden and magical at all moments! Guess what, kids? You’re going to be disappointed and uncomfortable once in a while. I remember Ava crying in bed in third grade—she was on JV basketball and she was the only kid on the team who didn’t score. I said, “Aves, maybe you’re bad at basketball.” She thought that was mean. I said, “Mean or true? ‘Cause, guess what? Your mom’s bad at basketball, too.”
A version of this article appeared in the December 2018/January 2019 issue of Fast Company magazine.
Reese is included in Entrepreneur magazine’s ’50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs in 2018′ featurette in their November issue. The magazine highlights her Hello Sunshine company and the different mediums it is using. Find the scan in our Gallery and the article below:
The 50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs in 2018 Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. It requires bold action. We spotlight 50 entrepreneurs who dared to go big in the past year — and who can inspire us all to dare even bigger.
Founder: Hello Sunshine
Bold move: Proving that women will watch — and read, and listen
Everyone knows Reese Witherspoon can make a good movie. The Academy Award–winning actress long ago proved her production chops with the films Gone Girl and Wild. But in 2016, Witherspoon launched production company Hello Sunshine to create wide-ranging content for women and in the past year alone announced a podcast network with Rooster Teeth, an Oprah-style book club and partnership with Audible and a brand-new VOD television channel. With every project, Witherspoon is investing in her big-picture goal: proving that women are valuable, hungry consumers of content.
On Friday, Reese attended the Texas Conference for Women in Austin, where she talked about how she developed Hello Sunshine, and increasing the presence of women in the media. Reese re-iterated her statement from the 2015 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards about ambition not being a “dirty word”, and said that ambition is about supporting and encouraging those around you.
Unfortunately I’ve only found one official photo from the event – which you can find in our Gallery. Below are a couple of articles/interviews from the event, and browse through our Twitter ‘moment’ for social media reaction to Reese’s key-note speech.
Actress Reese Witherspoon Encourages Women to be Ambitious
Early on as an actress in Hollywood, when Reese Witherspoon attended meetings to discuss her movie characters and mentioned a character flaw she would like to accentuate, the male producers would almost always say yes, but that would make her unlikable.
In those meetings, Witherspoon said she felt like she was always reminded she had to stay in her lane. Stay in a place that felt comfortable for everybody and conformed to some other person’s definition of what made a woman likable.
“I think as I got older I said, I’ve had enough of that,” Witherspoon said.
“Women are complicated, they are complex, they are dynamic,” Witherspoon said. “Those are the women I want to see on the screen.”
The first #SheIsEqual Summit was held in New York in September, with the aim of promoting gender equality, increasing the presence of women in media, and ensuring accurate portrayals of women on screen. Reese attended and spoke at the event, talking about her Hello Sunshine brand and the importance of female-driven content. Read more about the summit below, and find photos in our Gallery:
“I’ve done a lot of things for myself, and now it’s time to do more for others and change the story for women in this world. And I started a company. I self-funded it, which was terrifying because I didn’t know if it’s going to do well and quite honestly for a couple of years it wasn’t making any money. But now it’s incredible to change storytelling and to hire female directors and to hire writers with different backgrounds. And I feel enormously proud of the company and thrilled to wake up every morning with that kind of mission in my life. I hope I will leave my industry in a better place where I found it.”
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