Actor-writer Josh Gad (Angry Birds) is set to star and co-write, Josh Schwartz is attached to co-write and showrun and Seth Gordon is expected to direct Toy Wars, a limited drama series in development at Amazon, which follows the real-life battle between American toy giants Hasbro, the company behind GI Joe, Transformer and My Little Pony toys, and Barbie maker Mattel in the 1980s and 1990s.
Gad, Schwartz and Ryan Dixon will co-write the project based on the non-fiction book by G. Wayne Miller Toy Wars: The Epic Struggle Between G.I. Joe, Barbie, and the Companies that Make Them. Schwartz will serve as showrunner, with Gordon attached to direct the pilot, subject to availability.
This is a personal project for Schwartz who boarded Toy Wars after Gad, Dixon and Horrible Bosses helmer Gordon had sold it to Amazon.
Journalist and novelist Miller wrote the book after five years of unprecedented access to Hasbro, sitting in on meetings and interviewing employees. It follows Alan Hassenfeld, a free spirit who never intended to be an executive. He was thrust into the spotlight, taking the reins of Hasbro when his older brother Stephen, the marketing genius who had built up the family toy company into a powerhouse, died of AIDS. The book features a number of real-life characters, like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. One of them is Stephen Schwartz, Josh Schwartz’s father. He was one of late visionary CEO Steven Hassenfeld’s “Three Musketeers”, who helped turn Hasbro into the number one toy company in the world.
Gad and Schwartz’s mutual agency, WME, liked the two. Upon learning of Schwartz’s personal connection to the book, Gad reached out to The O.C. creator who immediately jumped on board.
Gad, Dixon and Miller will executive produce alongside Schwartz and partner Stephanie Savage through their company Fake Empire, Seth Gordon through his Exhibit A, and Story By Entertainment’s Michael Prevett. Lis Rowinski, who heads television for Fake Empire, and Exibit A’s Mary Rohlich co-executive produce.
Book Of Mormon star Gad and Dixon previously teamed several years ago to script the treatment for Triplets, a Twins sequel for Universal Pictures.
On the acting side, Frozen star Gad has reunited with Disney for the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live-action remake. He is repped by WME, Lighthouse and attorney P.J. Shapiro. Dixon’s credits include Opening Night and John Dunn’s Last Run. He is repped by ICM Partners.
Schwartz and Savage have series Marvel’s Runaways set at Hulu. On the feature side, through their overall deal with Universal Pictures, they are adapting and producing tentpole Monster High, based on Mattel’s billion dollar franchise. Schwartz, Savage and Fake Empire are repped by WME and attorney Joel McKuin. Schwartz is additionally repped by Mikkel Bondesen.
Gordon has directed five consecutive pilots ordered to series, most recently for the Amazon drama Sneaky Pete. On the feature side, Gordon directed Paramount Pictures’ upcoming Baywatch, starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. He is repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment and attorney Warren Dern.