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.
Here’s Reese on Aussie news show Sunrise earlier this month, promoting ‘Whiskey In A Teacup’. She also mentions Big Little Lies, cooking for her BLL co-stars, her Australian friends Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts & Isla Fisher, and Ava’s ‘win’ on the night Reese won her Oscar!
Reese Witherspoon Producing Comedy ‘Americanized’ About Undocumented Iranian Family From Sara Saedi At ABC
ABC has put in development Americanized, a half-hour comedy inspired by Sara Saedi’s memoir Americanized: Rebel Without A Green Card, from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and ABC Studios, where Hello Sunshine has a broadcast overall deal.
Written by Saedi (iZombie), Americanized tells the story of a loving and off-beat Iranian family who’s been living with a huge secret: they’re undocumented immigrants. Told through an irreverent, heartfelt and a-political lens, the series will give viewers a window into the life of a Middle-Eastern household while exploring the universal truths that bond every type of “American” family.
In the book, Saedi shares her story of growing up in San Jose, California in a loving Iranian family and her shock when she discovers she and the rest of her family are undocumented.
Saidi executive produces with Hello Sunshine’s Witherspoon and Lauren Levy Neustadter. ABC Studios is the studio.
The deal comes nine years after ABC took a stab at an Iranian family comedy with Funny In Farsi, based on Firoozeh Dumas’s “Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America.” The project went to a pilot directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, marking the first pilot order for producer Aaron Kaplan, but did not make the cut to series.
In the past few years, ABC has been looking to expand its family comedy brand to better represent different sections of American society. The network successfully launched an African-American family comedy with Black-ish, an Asian American family comedy with Fresh Off the Boat and also tried to find another hit Latinx family comedy with Cristela. In addition to Americanized, ABC also is developing multi-generational Latinx family comedy Food and Familia from Peter Murrieta and Overbrook Entertainment starring Danny Trejo whose life inspired it.
In addition to the CW’s iZombie, Saedi previously wrote for Fox’s The Goodwin Games. She is now on the upcoming ABC/ABC Studios drama Grand Hotel. Saedi is repped by Gersh and Nacelle Company.
Hello Sunshine’s series portfolio includes a limited series at Hulu from Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller Little Fires Everywhere; a comedy series for Apple created by Colleen McGuinness and inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld’s short-story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It; Apple series Are You Sleeping, executive produced by and starring Octavia Spencer; a limited series adaptation of the novel Daisy Jones & The Six for Amazon; and an Untitled Morning Show series at Apple produced by and starring Jennifer Aniston and Witherspoon. The company is repped by CAA and Gretchen Rush.
Reese Witherspoon Sets ’70s Rock Drama Series at Amazon
Amazon Studios is ready to rock.
The Jennifer Salke-led streamer and retail giant has handed out a 13-episode order for a limited series based on the Taylor Jenkins Reid’s forthcoming book Daisy Jones & The Six.
The limited series landed at Amazon before it could be taken out to the marketplace. After Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine acquired rights to the book, Salke got a copy ahead of its March 2019 publication and aggressively pursued the TV rights to the title. The project was never taken to market.
Daisy Jones & The Six centers on a fictional rock band in the 1970s and follows their rise through the ranks of the L.A. music scene and beyond, eventually becoming one of the most legendary bands in the world. Amazon will distribute original music from the series (via Amazon Music), and the print and audiobook from Ballantine/Random House will also be available via Amazon.com and Audible.com.
The Disaster Artist duo Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber will pen the script and will oversee Daisy. Witherspoon and her Hello Sunshine banner topper Lauren Neustadter will exec produce alongside Circle of Confusion’s Brad Mendelsohn. Neustadter and Weber, whose credits include 500 Days of Summer and The Fault in Our Stars, will also exec produce. Author Jenkins will be credited as a producer. The series is a co-production between Amazon Studios, which controls worldwide rights, and Hello Sunshine.
“When I heard Hello Sunshine was developing Daisy Jones & The Six, I tracked down a copy right away and devoured it in one sitting. I loved it so much I had to take it off the market and bring it to Amazon Studios,” said Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “I was immediately struck by how perfectly it fit into our overall approach of bringing passionate creators and entertaining, compelling content to our Prime Video audience. Reese, Lauren and I are kindred spirits!”
Daisy becomes Hello Sunshine’s latest TV foray. In addition to the upcoming second season of awards darling Big Little Lies, the company also has Little Fires Everywhere — starring Witherspoon and Kerry Washington — at Hulu and three shows at Apple, including a morning show drama that she toplines alongside Jennifer Aniston. (Coincidentally, Witherspoon’s Big Little Lies co-star, Nicole Kidman, recently inked a first-look film and TV deal with Salke at Amazon.)
“As soon as I started reading Daisy Jones & The Six, I immediately fell head over heels in love with it, and I’m thrilled to be bringing it to the screen with Amazon and Jen Salke, whose passionate pursuit of the material spoke volumes,” said Witherspoon, who also has a blurb on the book jacket. “With Neustadter and Weber, two writers I deeply admire, stewarding this project, I am so confident that Daisy and her band’s journey toward finding their voice will leave just as permanent a mark with viewers around the world as it did with me.”
The drama marks a big play for Amazon Studios, which was among the bidders for Little Fires Everywhere. With the music rights, Amazon has another revenue stream that could prove profitable for the series in a way akin to what Fox achieved with Glee and Empire.
Daisy joins a roster of scripted fare at Amazon that also includes Lord of the Rings, Jack Ryan, Julia Roberts vehicle Homecoming, Matt Weiner’s The Romanoffs and the recently renewed Man in the High Castle, as well as the Emmy-nominated Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, among others.
Witherspoon, who now has six shows at four outlets, is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson. Hello Sunshine is with CAA and Gretchen Rush. Circle of Confusion is with CAA and Howard Abramson. Neustadter and Weber are with UTA, Kaplan Perrone and Sean Marks. Reid is with WME, Circle of Confusion, Park Literary and Media and Bloom Hergott.
Reese appears on the cover of the June issue of Fast Company, a US business magazine. She is named one of their ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’ (#11 to be exact), and the magazine features an extensive new interview and a new photoshoot. See some behind the scenes videos on the magazine’s website, and find scans and photos from the shoot in our Gallery. It’s fantastic to see Reese recognised for her work like this!
How Reese Witherspoon is flipping the script on Hollywood The Hello Sunshine founder is channeling women’s voices into top-tier entertainment–and altering the dynamics of the entire industry along the way.
When Reese Witherspoon was 17, she had already appeared in four films. Still, she took an unlikely part-time job, as an intern in Disney’s post-production department. “I wanted to learn about editing, visual correction, and sound mixing,” she tells me 25 years later. Not long after, she worked as a production assistant on the 1995 Denzel Washington film Devil in a Blue Dress, helping with casting, among other things. Also: “I parked Denzel’s Porsche!”
That inquisitiveness, as well as nearly three decades in front of the camera, has made Witherspoon one of Hollywood’s most astute producers. She turned Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl into a $369 million worldwide hit in 2014 (that earned Rosamund Pike an Oscar nomination) and did it again, that same year, transforming Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir, Wild, into a breakout success ($52 million plus Oscar nods for Witherspoon and costar Laura Dern). Then came HBO’s Big Little Lies, executive produced with costar Nicole Kidman; the cultural bellwether about female relationships and domestic abuse, based on a novel by Liane Moriarty, swept nearly every category for which it was nominated at the 2017 Emmys. After years of hearing from studio executives that there was no market for female-driven films, Witherspoon had succeeded to a degree that proved a hunger was there.
Her instinct for what women want is now being tested on multiple platforms through her 18-month-old storytelling company, Hello Sunshine. She and her team currently have shows in development at Hulu, NBC, and Apple TV (which has partnered on three projects, one rumored to be the biggest deal in history for a straight-to-series show), as well as a film at TriStar/Sony Pictures. But Witherspoon is also laying the foundation for a direct-to-consumer brand, one that is already beginning to speak to women through a website, social media, YouTube and Facebook videos, audiobooks, podcasts, and newsletters—whichever platform she and Hello Sunshine execs think best honors the story being told.
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