The success of the blog turned book turned movie Julie & Julia sent Hollywood on a frenzied search to uncover possible blogs for film adaptations. Back in 2010 Sony had jumped on mommy blogger Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman, optioning it for a possible Reese Witherspoon vehicle. The blog—like the book that would follow The Pioneer Woman: From Black Heels To Tractor Wheels—detailed how Drummond’s kismet meeting with a charming cowboy inspired her to leave behind her city slicker life in favor of a home on the range.
With Witherspoon’s warm yet sharp charisma, this proposed picture seemed a good fit for her. Unfortunately, The Pioneer Woman stalled out in 2011 when executive producer Laura Ziskin died. The unfinished screenplay—penned by Robert Harling of Steel Magnolias fame—was shelved and he moved on to create the ABC dramedy series GCB. Witherspoon remained attached to the property, but the future of The Pioneer Woman movie was uncertain.
Now, at long last it seems The Pioneer Woman will ride again. Julie & Julia producer Laurence Mark and former president of Laura Ziskin Productions, Pam Williams, have recently been on the search for a fitting screenwriter to finish the forgotten script, and Deadline reports they’ve now got two, hiring Hysteria scribes Stephen Dyer and Jonah Lisa Dyer to rewrite Harling’s draft. This is an inspired pick on Sony’s part as the married screenwriting team found inspiration for their Tribeca Film Festival offering by looking into the surprising true story of the invention of the vibrator, which was created as a tool to cure women from the amorphous disorder for which the movie is named. The Dyers were able to look at a tale that on its face seemed absurd and found the humanity of it without killing the humor. It’s a tricky balance that’s winning the comedy attention, and should serve The Pioneer Woman well.
Husband-and-wife writing team Stephen Dyer and Jonah Lisa Dyer, who scripted the invention of the vibrator pic Hysteria that just played at the Tribeca Film Festival, have been hired by Sony Pictures to rewrite Pioneer Woman. That is the film adapted from Ree Drummond’s blog/cookbook and memoir The Pioneer Woman: From Black Heels To Tractor Wheels that Sony optioned for producer Laura Ziskin Prods back in 2010, with Reese Witherspoon attached to play Drummond, and Robert Harling attached to write.
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Hysteria Movie The project languished when Ziskin passed away, and Steel Magnolias scribe Harling moved on when he got his TV series picked up. Then, Laurence Mark came aboard to produce with Pam Williams, who was president of Ziskin’s production company. After Williams saw the Tanya Wexler-directed Hysteria at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, she invited the scribes to pitch their vision for Pioneer Woman, and they got the job over other writers. Witherspoon is still attached. Hysteria‘s exhilarating run at Toronto climaxed in a distribution deal with Sony Pictures Classics.
Stephen Dyer also produced The Playroom, which played Tribeca, so they had two films at the Gotham festival, and a job waiting for them when they get back. The Dyers are repped by Original Artists.
Drummond’s blog and her book detail how a spontaneous detour on a trip from L.A. to Chicago led her to Oklahoma, where she met the cowboy of her dreams and transformed from spoiled city girl to domestic ranch wife. Drummond has a large following for a blog she writes from the cattle ranch that covers everything from cooking to tips on home schooling. The film will explore the fantasy of trading big-city living for a wholesome, simpler life. The first time that Deadline revealed Sony was developing a movie on Drummond, the reaction from commenters was enormous. This is certainly a different movie from Fifty Shades Of Grey, but the subject matter seems to have hit the target with a wish-fulfillment tale aimed at adult women.