Inside Harper Lee’s Lost Novel Go Set a Watchman: Reese Witherspoon and Others Weigh In
As the literary world awaits Tuesday’s publication of Harper Lee’s long-awaited second novel Go Set a Watchman, the prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric sat down with Reese Witherspoon and others involved in the project.
The actress, who has been tapped to record the audio version of the forthcoming novel, tells Couric she’s in awe of Go Set a Watchman, which features Mockingbird’s Scout as an adult woman living in New York City in the 1950s.
“It shocked me, as being a modern woman in 2015, reading some of the words. I had to keep reminding myself it was written in the ’50s, and these were the complex issues that people of the day were dealing with,” she says. “And old attitudes and modern thinking was just evolving about race relations in our country. So I think you will feel all that complexity in the piece.”
Lee’s long-lost manuscript, which will be the first work she’s published since 1960, was discovered in a safe deposit box last August by the author’s lawyer, Tonja Carter, and later passed along to publishing house HarperCollins, the publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Nobody quite knew where it was. The author, Harper Lee, didn’t know where it was,” says Jonathan Burnham, senior vice president and publisher of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Burnham says the book was unedited when Lee’s literary agent and Carter came to them after consulting with Lee. “Jean Louise, who is Scout as a grown woman, is a 26-year-old girl working in New York City who goes back to her home town of Maycomb and visits her father, strikes up old friendships, visits characters that we remember from Kill a Mockingbird,” he explains. “It’s the story of that particular visit and what happens on that visit.”
Lee’s first novel, published in 1960, was an instant sensation, winning her a Pulitzer Prize. It was later made into an Academy Award-winning film.
“I thought she was extremely courageous to write that book about her hometown,” says Mary Tucker, a retired African-American schoolteacher from Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, who lived through segregation. “Of course, she said it was fiction but we could identify some of the characters from people in town.”
Rick Bragg, a former New York Times journalist and bestselling author from Alabama adds of Lee, “She wrote the story that explained us to ourselves. A lot of us, you know, were not piebald racists. A lot of us knew that the cruelty that came to light in our region was dead wrong. But she put it in a story.”
Scans from Reese’s new (albeit a reprint of the US version) In Style UK cover are now in our Gallery, plus scans from the current People Style Watch and an issue of Tu Style from earlier in the year.
— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) July 4, 2015
Reese looks pretty on the cover of the new August issue of In Style UK, on news-stands now…
Abi Morgan To Adapt ‘Ashley’s War’ For Fox 2000 And Reese Witherspoon
Fox 2000 has set Abi Morgan to adapt the Gayle Tzemach Lemmon book Ashley’s War: The Untold Story Of A Team of Women Soldiers On The Special Ops Battlefield. The studio, led by Elizabeth Gabler, won an auction in March at a time when several military-themed books were selling after the outsized grosses of American Sniper. Pacific Standard’s Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea are producing with Natalie Krinsky, and the expectation is that Witherspoon will play a major role. Book tells 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 Lt. Ashley White, who would become the first CST member killed in action.
Morgan is best known for scripting the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, and the Meryl Streep-as-Maggie Thatcher drama The Iron Lady. She followed with the Sarah Gavron-directed Suffragette, which stars Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Carey Mulligan and Brendan Gleeson, with Focus releasing the film on October 23. She co-wrote the Suzanne Bier-directed Rules Of Inheritance, is adapting Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew and is working on the feature version of Little House On The Prairie for producer Scott Rudin and Sony.
Morgan is repped by CAA and Independent Talent Group.
Reese Witherspoon Developing ‘Napkin Notes’ Memoir for the Screen
Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea’s Pacific Standard banner is developing a film adaptation for New Line of Garth Callaghan’s memoir “Napkin Notes: Make Lunch Meaningful, Life Will Follow.”
Witherspoon and Papandrea will produce “Napkin Notes,” which New Line optioned last September. Mike Binder, whose credits include “Black or White,” “Reign Over Me” and “The Upside of Anger,” has come on to adapt the script. Toby Emmerich, Andrea Johnston and Richard Brener are overseeing for New Line.
Callaghan’s book, published by HarperCollins, details how he began writing short inspirational notes on napkins to put in his daughter Emma’s lunchbox daily to connect with his daughter. The practice took on far more significance after Callaghan was diagnosed first with kidney cancer and subsequently received four other cancer diagnoses.
“Napkin Notes” is Pacific Standard’s ninth development project. Witherspoon and Papandea formed Pacific Standard in 2012 in order to remedy the absence of movies with female protagonists. They have since produced “Wild,” “Gone Girl” and “Hot Pursuit.”
The banner has been developing Jessica Knoll’s “Luckiest Girl Alive” at Lionsgate, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s “Ashley’s War” at Fox 2000, S.J. Watson’s thriller novel “Second Life” at Warner Bros. and Maureen Sherry Klinsky’s upcoming novel “Opening Belle” with an eye to Witherspoon starring in the Wall Street comedy. Pacfiic Standard is also developing an adaptation of the novel “Big Little Lies,” “The Engagements,” “Pennyroyal’s Princess Boot Camp” and “The Outliers.”
Witherspoon is repped by CAA and Rick Yorn at LBI Entertainment. CAA, which packaged the deal, represents Pacific Standard and Callaghan.
News about “Napkin Notes” was first reported by the Tracking Board.
Reese has been promoting Hot Pursuit in Mexico this week, along with her co-star Sofia Vergara. On Monday they attended a premiere for the film, with Reese wearing a red Yves Saint Laurent dress, and the day after a photocall for the film was held, with Reese opting for a cream Thierry Mugler Resort dress with Louboutin heels and jewelry by Jennifer Fisher.
Photos from both events can be found in our Gallery. Check out Reese’s pics from her travels at her Instagram page. And further down this post are video interviews and footage from the events.
Here are some South American trailers for Hot Pursuit:
And Reese and Sofia alert fans to the upcoming release of their movie in Mexico: