EXCLUSIVE: Following a competitive bidding situation, former CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler and producer Denise Di Novi have acquired rights to the critically-acclaimed, non-fiction book Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel. The duo will adapt and produce the project as a limited series under their new PatMa Productions banner. The project is the first for PatMa since the company was announced in January to amplify diverse voices.
The book was authored by Francine Klagsbrun and presents the life and career of Golda Meir, one of the most influential figures in the history of Israel and one of the most prominent figures in world history. The book spans her birth in Kiev to her American upbringing in Milwaukee, her role in the formation of Israel and her rise to become the new nation’s first and only female prime minister. This remarkable, and often controversial, leader was (and still is) known as the beloved Mother of Israel.
And what better woman to write about Meir than Klagsbrun who is an award-winning, Jewish author who was at the forefront of the struggle to have women ordained as rabbis in the Conservative movement and was the first woman to carry a Torah to the Western Wall in Jerusalem?
“One of the things that frustrates us is that there are so many incredible women in history whose stories have not been told,” Di Novi told Deadline. “Golda Meir is one of the greatest and most prominent figures in world history and her entire life as a wife, mother, teacher and creator of a country in one of the most complicated nations in the world should be told. We feel the depth of her story, and we think it’s an incredible role for an actor. It’s so compelling.”
Tassler also told Deadline that “one of the things that struck us was that many of the issues that she had to contend to in her day — childcare, education and being the only woman in a roomful of men — those issues that she was dealing with are as relevant today. Even while she was involved in establishing the nation of Israel, she traveled throughout this country and grew up in Milwaukee so this is as much an American story as it is one of Israel’s.”
Among the factors influencing Klagsbrun’s decision to partner with PatMa Productions was the new company’s stated focus on producing content with an emphasis on inclusion. Tassler and Di Novi have both shepherded successful female-driven entertainment content and have advocated for diversity and inclusion throughout their careers, having previously worked together on the 2000 CBS drama series The District. Di Novi executive produced and Tassler oversaw as the network’s head of drama.
Tassler and Di Novi have already set the stage for PatMa Productions by setting up partnerships with many organizations that promote diversity, inclusion and human rights. Those include the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Center for Popular Democracy as well as Planned Parenthood.
Klagsbrun is repped by Paradigm on behalf of Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. PatMa was repped by Paradigm for this project.