Charlie Ebersol and Mike Lanigan’s The Company and the NFL, in partnership with The Black List, have chosen scribes John Arends of Chicago and Jeff Williams of Wake Forest, NC, to develop a feature about American football. Arends and Williams will receive a two-step WGA minimum blind script deal to pen the NFL-themed screenplay.
Arends and Williams were selected for the gig from a field of 600 writers whose scripts were hosted on The Black List’s site. Each was required to have earned no more than $500,000 in screenwriting fees to keep the playing field open to writers who haven’t recently sold scripts. From this group, The Black List recommended a shortlist of 10 writers whose submissions were best-in-class for review by the NFL and The Company.
Williams, an architect of sports facilities by trade, was one of five recipients of the 2009 Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting for his golf script Pure. Twice a Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist with his script Trice, marketing executive and former college gymnast Arends also took part in the 2014 Black List screenwriters lab.
“Connecting the world’s No. 1 sports brand with the world’s best platform for identifying emerging writing talent seemed like a formula for success,“ said Charlie Ebersol, Founder and CEO of The Company. “Helping two outstanding writers from outside the Hollywood mainstream to break through in their writing careers has made this a great opening chapter of our collaboration with The Black List, and an exciting extension of our working relationship with the NFL.”
The NFL previously worked with Summit Entertainment on last year’s Kevin Costner starrer Draft Day. Its script, by Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, nabbed the No. 1 spot on The Black List in 2012. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also had a cameo in the pic.
Launched in 2010, The Company is in the third season of its original series The Profit on CNBC and the fourth season of NFL Characters Unite on USA Network. Other projects include Space Jam 2 at Warner Bros., and its first scripted sale, Untitled Yale/Skull and Bones Project, with Rob Reiner, Andrew Lenchewski and Aaron Tracy on USA Network.
WME, which developed the idea along with the NFL, represents the league and The Company.