BREAKING: Warner Bros is acquiring Wilson, the just published Putnam biography of Woodrow Wilson, the academic-turned-politician who led the United States into joining the allies in WWI. The deal is being made to develop the film as a potential star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio, with he and Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran producing with Berg.
The book was 13 years of work for Berg, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his bio Lindbergh. Here, he tells the story of an academic who comes off as the great forgotten president, who, over the course of his presidency at first resisted and then rose to the occasion and led the U.S. into the war, claiming that it would make the world safe for democracy. The studio and Appian Way sparked to the similarities between circumstances surrounding WWI and the current political tensions in places like Syria.
The book humanizes Wilson, who, spent much time trying to convince the Allies not to carve up territory to punish Germany for its role in the war. That argument was largely unsuccessful as was Wilson’s efforts to hammer through the Senate his vision for an International League of Nations.
News of Appian Way’s interest in the book spread this week at a book party for Berg, and Warner Bros came in this morning and has been negotiating all day with CAA to take the book off the table. Lynn Harris will steer the project for the studio.
Berg’s books have often been optioned over the years. Deals have included Steven Spielberg acquiring the Lindberg book; Genius, his book on editor Max Perkins, is being developed with Michael Grandage directing and Michael Fassbender and Colin Firth circling.