EXCLUSIVE: Octavia Spencer is set to join Jim Parsons and Claire Danes in the upcoming drama A Kid Like Jake, directed by Silas Howard. Priyanka Chopra, Ann Dowd and Michaela Watkins are in negotiations to join the film as well.
Parsons, Todd Spiewak and Eric Norsoph will produce via their That’s Wonderful Productions banner alongside Paul Bernon for Burn Later and Rachel Song for XS Media. Sam Slater, David Bernon and Jackie Bernon will executive produce for Burn Later alongside Jenette Kahn and Adam Richman for Double Nickel Entertainment, Hilary Davis, Stephen Kelliher and Patrick Howson for Bankside Films, and Phil Hunt and Compton Ross for Head Gear Films. Co-producers are Rowan Riley of Burn Later and Veronica Nickel.
Bankside Films is launching foreign sales on the project to buyers in Cannes next week while CAA is repping domestic rights. Film is set to shoot this summer in New York.
Project is based on Daniel Pearle’s celebrated Lincoln Center play A Kid Like Jake. He adapts the script for while Howard directs. Story follows Alex (Danes) and Greg Wheeler (Parsons) who have high hopes for their son Jake, a bright and precocious four-year-old who happens to prefer Cinderella to GI Joe. On the eve of the admissions cycle for New York City kindergartens and aware they can’t afford private school tuition, Judy (Spencer), the director of Jake’s preschool, encourages them to accentuate Jake’s “gender variant” expression to help him stand out and try and get a scholarship.
As they navigate their roles as parents, a rift grows between them, one that forces them to confront their own concerns about what’s best for Jake, and each other. Chopra will portray Amal, their friend and a newly single mom who is also trying to navigate the school system, as well as her own dating world; Dowd will play Catherine, Alex’s mother; while Watkins will portray Sandra, Greg’s patient.
“We live in a world that cherishes a child’s uniqueness while paradoxically punishing difference,” said Howard. “I’m interested in the ways that, even when acting out of love, people can do harm when confronted with the fear of the uncontrollable. How does a parent balance those intense pressures? These tensions fascinate me both as a filmmaker and as someone with intimate knowledge of our culture’s fixation on policing gender.”
Parsons added: “That’s Wonderful Productions was founded to tell stories just like this one. From the moment we read Daniel Pearle’s beautiful play, A Kid Like Jake, we knew that this would be our first project for the big screen.”
Octavia Spencer can currently be seen on the big screen in Gifted, and most recently in Hidden Figures, which earned her an Oscar nomination. Chopra, a star of hit series Quantico, is next up in Baywatch while Watkins stars in Cannes Critics Week title Brigsby Bear. Dowd recently starred in Hulu’s hit series The Handmaid’s Tale.
Spencer is repped by WME and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein. Chopra is repped by WME. Watkins is repped by UTA and Haven Entertainment. Dowd is repped by Innovative Artists and Principal Entertainment LA.