EXCLUSIVE: Talk about a feature film dream team: The movie rights to Small Great Things, the popular novel by Jodi Picoult, have been picked up by Amblin Partners with last night’s SAG Best Supporting Actress winner (and Oscar front-runner) Viola Davis attached to star along with Oscar winner Julia Roberts. Attached to produce is Marc Platt, one of the producers on Best Picture Oscar front-runner La La Land — the Lionsgate movie that received 14 noms, topped $100M domestic this weekend and won top pic from the PGA.
A screenwriter has yet been hired to adapt, but we do know that the plan is to put the project through the DreamWorks Pictures’ label. Adam Siegel who works at Marc Platt Productions also will produce. There might be other producers joining, and we will update when we hear the names. By the way, the latest gross on La La Land is $225.5M worldwide (with $106.7M of that stateside).
Small Great Things follows is about race relations and follows Ruth, a labor/delivery nurse who takes care of newborns at a Connecticut hospital but is told not to touch the baby of a couple who are white supremacists. Ruth, who has 20 years experience with newborns, is a widow whose husband was killed in Afghanistan and whose son is an honor student. When the couple’s baby dies and Ruth is the only one present, she is taken to court by the couple.
Picoult has seen many of her works adapted for either the small or big screen. She wrote My Sister’s Keeper, on which the 2009 Nick Cassavettes film was based; Her novel Sing You Home is set up with producers Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Kleeman; and she is credited as a writer on the drama Change of Heart, which is with Cynthia Shelton Droke.
Roberts is a four-time Academy Award nominee and she won Best Actress for Erin Brockovich in 2001. Davis won both the Globe and the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress and is nominated for an Oscar this year for her work in Fences, reprising her role from the stage for Denzel Washington’s film that just garnered a Best Picture nomination as well as one for the actor himself and the late August Wilson’s screenplay. (Washington also won a SAG Award last night.) Davis has been Oscar-nominated twice before — for The Help and Doubt — but has not yet won.
Platt and Amblin worked together on the Tom Hanks starrer Bridge of Spies, which was nominated for six Oscars last year including Best Picture and took home the win for Best Supporting Actor Mark Rylance.
CAA reps Davis and Roberts. The Lasher Group also reps Davis. Picoult is represented by the Gotham Group and literary agent Laura Gross.