EXCLUSIVE: This may not be the best of times to develop a lovable whale tale considering the tragic death of that trainer by an Orca. Universal is making Everybody Loves Whales, a fact-based story of the 1988 rescue of a trio of California gray whales trapped under the ice of the Arctic Circle. I’m told Drew Barrymore is circling the role of a Greenpeace activist and Ken Kwapis is set to direct. Shooting is slated for the fall.
The film has all the makings of a heartwarming family film. Despite the frigid surroundings, the actual event caused a thaw in relations between the U.S. and Soviet superpowers, which worked together with activists, media, and locals to save the whales after both President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev got involved. Jack Amiel and Michael Begler wrote the script. Universal harpooned the project after Warner Bros set it free. Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Michael Sugar will produce it with Working Title’s Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Liza Chasin. Barrymore is hot again after winning several awards including the Golden Globe for HBO’s Grey Gardens.