EXCLUSIVE: Indie producer J. Todd Harris and his company, Branded Pictures Entertainment have optioned the motion picture rights to Big Guns, a satirical novel about the gun industry by former New York congressman Steve Israel. The book, which has a street date of April 17, 2018 from Simon & Schuster, is on a fast-track for development, as gun legislation continues to be a galvanizing national issue.
This country suffered its largest mass shooting in Las Vegas only 19 days ago with about 30 people still in ICU and about 100 still recovering in the hospital. Over 500 were shot and 58 people were killed, with thousands impacted.
The novel actually begins after another mass shooting. After the tragedy, Chicago’s mayor starts a national campaign to ban handguns from American cities, towns, and villages. Otis Cogsworth, the wealthy chairman/CEO of Cogsworth International Arms, worries about the effects on his company. In response, he and lobbyist Sunny McCarthy convince an Arkansas congressman to introduce federal legislation mandating that every American must own a firearm … and then, it escalates from there.
J. Todd Harris’s wife had previously dated Israel in high school and told him about the new book. He read it with a personal interest, given his own life experience:
“In 1992, my half-brother was shot and killed by his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. He shot and killed them both when they opened up the door. It bore a permanent hole in my family and that set me on the path of trying to understand gun legislation and also the safety issue,” said Harris. “We all know that the NRA started out as a gun safety organization and there is a lot of speculation as to how it morphed to what it is today. All I care about is how we go forward.”
He said the story is “incisive satire” and likens it to Thank You for Smoking, Wag the Dog with a little of the The Big Short thrown in. “I don’t know why people don’t look at Canada, New Zealand, Australia and U.K., and then say, they don’t have as many murders per capita, what’s wrong with us? I think that if people see a movie like this, maybe a spoonful of humor would make the medicine go down,” said Harris.
Harris said he is currently looking for a very clever collaborator like Larry Charles or Adam McKay or a Jay Roach type of creative mind to help develop the property.
Harris’ company Branded Pictures Ent. recently announced the acquisition of all non-publishing rights to the beloved children’s book Danny and the Dinosaur, which is currently in development. The company is finishing principal photography on the new comedy Elsewhere starring Aden Young, Parker Posey and Ken Jeong, and written-directed by acclaimed Costa Rican filmmaker Hernán Jiménez. It also has the Talitha Bateman-Alfre Woodard-starrer So B. It in theaters, and the Netflix original Wheelman starring Frank Grillo debuting October 20.
Israel, who is now a frequent CNN contributor, represented New York’s 3rd Congressional District for from 2001 to 2017. Big Guns is his second novel, following The Global War on Morris.
The deal for movie rights for the book was negotiated with literary agency Aevitas Creative Management on behalf of Israel’s agents.