EXCLUSIVE: Amazon has acquired the 2015 Black List biopic script Ida Tarbell by Mark McDevitt for producer Tom Drumm of Think Tank Management & Production to produce. The Irish writer McDevitt moved to New York in 1994 after winning a green card in a lottery. As a writer and journalist, his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Irish Times, The Independent and The Examiner. This is his first feature script sale, and what better one for a journalist to write than about the historical figure, the smart and wily Ida Tarbell? On top of that, it’s just a heck of a role for a 45-year-old actress.
Tarbell was known as one of the leading muckrackers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was one of the earliest investigative journalists — digging through public documents and interviewing others to construct a detailed history. Her book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, which initially began as a series of articles in the popular magazine McClure’s, has been listed as one of the top 100 works of 20th century American journalism by New York University.
It was Tarbell who depicted John D. Rockefeller as the ruthless, money-grubbing businessman who found a way to monopolize the country’s oil trade. Think Tank manager Kate Hart, who will associate produce, brought the Tarbell script into the company.
To that end, the script follows Tarbell as she digs into the Rockefeller oil empire through public documents to unearth the truth behind Standard Oil. Rockefeller would find himself against a formidable foe, the 45-year-old teacher and journalist Tarbell, who later also would pen a profile of the businessman. Tarbell’s exposé ended up not only changing the way others thought about journalism but also put a microscope on Rockefeller’s vast empire.
McDevitt is repped by UTA, Think Tank Management and Frankfurt Kurnit.